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GADDI 1912 




















EDITION OF 1550 xiii 

EDITION OF 1568 xvii 




































Madonna and Child - 
Madonna and Child - 

Madonna and Child, with 
SS. Francis and John 

Madonna and Child, with 
SS. Mary Magdalen and 

The Knighting of S. Martin 
Madonna and Child - 

The Presentation in the 

Christ Enthroned 

The Descent from the Cross 


Florence : Accademia, 102 10 
Florence: Accademia, 103 82 
Assisi : Lower Church - 118 

Siena : Pinacoteca, 77 - 156 

Assisi : Lower Church, 
Chapel of S. Martin - 168 

Berlin : Kaiser Friedrich 
Museum, io8iA - - 172 

Florence : Accademia, 107 182 

Florence : S. Maria Novella, 
Strozzi Chapel - - 192 

Florence : Uffizi, 27 - - 206 








Madonna, Child, and Angels 
Isaac's Blessing 

The Deposition from the 

The Crucifixion - 

Reclining Female Figure 
from a Tomb 

Tomb of Adrian V - 


Detail : The 
the Magi 

Adoration of 

Paris : Louvre, 1260 2 

Assisi : Upper Church - 6 

Assisi : Upper Church - 6 

Assisi : Upper Church - 8 - - 

Florence : Collection Bar- 

dini - - 18 

Viterbo : S. Francesco - 24 

Pisa : The Baptistery - 30 

Pisa : Relief from the Pul- 
pit of the Baptistery - 32 




















Detail : The Visitation and 
The Nativity 

Detail : A Sibyl 

Detail : The Massacre of 
the Innocents 

Madonna and Child - 

The Virgin and Child, with 
Scenes from the Lives of 
the Saints 

The Death of S. Francis 

S. Francis Preaching before 
Pope Honorius III 

The Body of S. Francis 
before the Church of 
S. Damiano 

The Raising of Lazarus 
The Flight into Egypt 
The Crucifixion 

SS. Paul, Peter, and John 
the Baptist 

The Madonna Enthroned - 

The Deposition from the 

Details : Salome and The 
Beheading of S. John the 

The Creation of Man 
Madonna and Child - 

Madonna and Child - 

Central Panel of Polyptych : 
Madonna and Child 

Detail from The Last Judg- 
ment : Head of an Apostle 

Detail from The Last Judg- 
ment : Head of the Christ 
in Glory 

Altar-piece : S. Louis crown- 
ing King Robert of Naples 

The Annunciation 
Madonna and Child - 

Siena : Relief from the Pul- 
pit of the Baptistery - 34 

Siena : Duomo (facade) - 38 

Pistoia : Relief from the 

Pulpit, S. Andrea - - 40 

Padua : Arena Chapel - 42 

London : N.G., 5040 - 64 

Florence : S. Croce - - 70 
Assisi : Upper Church - 72 

Assisi : Upper Church - 74 

Assisi : Lower Church - 78 
Padua : Arena Chapel - 88 
Assisi : Lower Church - 90 

Berlin : Kaiser Friedrich 
Museum, 1635 - 112 

Arezzo : S. Maria della 
Pieve - - 116 

Assisi : Lower Church - 120 

Florence : Gates of the 
Baptistery - - 126 

Florence : Relief on the 
Campanile - - 128 

Orvieto : Museo dell' 
Opera - - 130 

Milan : Cagnola Collection 154 

Massa Marittima : Muni- 
cipio - - 158 

Rome : Convent of S. Ce- 
cilia - - 162 

Rome : Convent of S. Ce- 
cilia - - 164 

Naples : S. Lorenzo - - 166 

Antwerp : Royal Museum, 
257-8 - - 170 

Altenburg : Lindenau Mu- 
seum, 43 - - 174 







The Last Supper 

Detail from The Paradise : 
Christ with the Virgin 

The Death and Assump- 
tion of the Virgin 

S. Thomas Aquinas - 
S. Peter Enthroned - 

The Marriage of S. Catha- 


Florence : S. Croce, the 
Refectory - - 178 

Florence : S. Maria Novella 190 

Florence : Relief on the 
Tabernacle, Or San Mi- 
chele - 194 

Pisa : S. Caterina - - 198 
Florence : Uffizi, 1292 - 212 

Philadelphia : J. G. John- 
son Collection - - 218 


Page 49, lines I, 27, for " Apollonius " read " Apollonio." 

120, line 10, for " which tabernacle is quite round " read " which tabernacle 

is in the round." 

,, 127, lines II, 12, for " oval spaces " read " mandorle." 
., 196, line 18, for " an oval space " read " a mandorla." 


VASARI introduces himself sufficiently in his own prefaces and intro- 
duction ; a translator need concern himself only with the system by 
which the Italian text can best be rendered in English. The style of 
that text is sometimes laboured and pompous ; it is often ungrammatical. 
But the narrative is generally lively, full of neat phrases, and abounding 
in quaint expressions many of them still recognizable in the modern 
Florentine vernacular while, in such Lives as those of Giotto, Leonardo 
da Vinci, and Michelagnolo, Vasari shows how well he can rise to a 
fine subject. His criticism is generally sound, solid, and direct ; and he 
employs few technical terms, except in connection with architecture, 
where we find passages full of technicalities, often so loosely used that it 
is difficult to be sure of their exact meaning. In such cases I have 
invariably adopted the rendering which seemed most in accordance 
with Vasari' s actual words, so far as these could be explained by pro- 
fessional advice and local knowledge ; and I have included brief notes 
where they appeared to be indispensable. 

In Mrs. Foster's familiar English paraphrase for a paraphrase it is 
rather than a translation all Vasari' s liveliness evaporates, even where 
his meaning is not blurred or misunderstood. Perhaps I have gone too 
far towards the other extreme in relying upon the Anglo-Saxon side of 
the English language rather than upon the Latin, and in taking no 
liberties whatever with the text of 1568. My intention, indeed, has been 
to render my original word for word, and to err, if at all, in favour of literal- 
ness. The very structure of Vasari' s sentences has usually been retained, 
though some freedom was necessary in the matter of the punctuation, which 
is generally bewildering. As Mr. Home's only too rare translation of 



the Life of Leonardo da Vinci has proved, it is by some such method 
that we can best keep Vasari's sense and Vasari's spirit the one as 
important to the student of Italian art as is the other to the general 
reader. Such an attempt, however, places an English translator of 
the first volume at a conspicuous disadvantage. Throughout the earlier 
Lives Vasari seems to be feeling his way. He is not sure of himself, and 
his style is often awkward. The more faithful the attempted rendering, 
the more plainly must that awkwardness be reproduced. 

Vasari's Introduction on Technique has not been included, because 
it has no immediate connection with the Lives. In any case, there 
already exists an adequate translation by Miss Maclehose. All Vasari's 
other prefaces and introductions are given in the order in which they 
are found in the edition of 1568. 

With this much explanation, I may pass to personal matters, and 
record my thanks to many Florentine friends for help in technical and 
grammatical questions ; to Professor Baldwin Brown for the notes on 
technical matters printed with Miss Maclehose' s translation of " Vasari 
on Technique " ; and to Mr. C. J. Holmes, of the National Portrait Gallery, 
for encouragement in a task which has proved no less pleasant than 

G. DU C. DE V. 


March 1912. 



Seeing that your Excellency, following in this the footsteps of 
your most Illustrious ancestors, and incited and urged by your own 
natural magnanimity, ceases not to favour and to exalt every kind of 
talent, wheresoever it may be found, and shows particular favour to the 
arts of design, fondness for their craftsmen,* and understanding and 
delight in their beautiful and rare works ; I think that you cannot but 
take pleasure in this labour which I have undertaken, of writing down 
the lives, the works, the manners, and the circumstances of all those 
who, finding the arts already dead, first revived them, then step by 
step nourished and adorned them, and finally brought them to that 
height of beauty and majesty whereon they stand at the present day. 
And because these masters have been almost all Tuscans, and most of 
these Florentines, of whom many have been incited and aided by your 
most Illustrious ancestors with every kind of reward and honour to 
put themselves to work, it may be said that in your state, nay, in your 

^ i 

most blessed house the arts were born anew, and that through the 
generosity of your ancestors the world has recovered these most beautiful 
arts, through which it has been ennobled and embellished. 

* The word " artist " has become impossible as a translation of " artefice." Such 
words as "artificer," "art-worker," or "artisan," seem even worse. "Craftsman" 
loses the alliterative connection with " art," but it comes nearest to expressing Vasari's 
idea of the " artefice " as a practical workman (cf. his remark about Ambrogio Lorenzetti : 
" The ways of Ambrogio were rather those of a ' gentiluomo ' than of an ' artefice ' "). 



Wherefore, through the debt which this age, these arts, and these 
craftsmen owe to your ancestors, and to you as the heir of their virtue 
and of their patronage of these professions, and through that debt 
which I, above all, owe them, seeing that I was taught by them, that I 
was their subject and their devoted servant, that I was brought up under 
Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici, and under Alessandro, your predecessor, 
and that, finally, I am infinitely attached to the blessed memory of the 
Magnificent Ottaviano de' Medici, by whom I was supported, loved 
and protected while he lived ; for all these reasons, I say, and because 
from the greatness of your worth and of your fortunes there will come 
much favour for this work, and from your understanding of its subject 
there will come a better appreciation than from any other for its useful- 
ness and for the labour and the diligence that I have given to its execu- 
tion, it has seemed to me that to your Excellency alone could it be 
fittingly dedicated, and it is under your most honoured name that I have 
wished it to come to the hands of men. 

Deign, then, Excellency, to accept it, to favour it, and, if this may 
be granted to it by your exalted thoughts, sometimes to read it ; having 
regard to the nature of the matter therein dealt with and to my pure 
intention, which has been, not to gain for myself praise as a writer, but 
as craftsman to praise the industry and to revive the memory of those 
who, having given life and adornment to these professions, do not deserve 
to have their names and their works wholly left, even as they were, the 
prey of death and of oblivion. Besides, at the same time, through the 
example of so many able men and through so many observations on so 
many works that I have gathered together in this book, I have thought 
to help not a little the masters of these exercises and to please all those 
who therein have taste and pleasure. This I have striven to do with 
that accuracy and with that good faith which are essential for the truth 
, of history and of things written. But if my writing, being unpolished 
and as artless as my speech, be unworthy of your Excellency's ear and 
of the merits of so many most illustrious intellects ; as for them, pardon 
me that the pen of a draughtsman, such as they too were, has no greater 



power to give them outline and shadow ; and as for yourself, let it suffice 
me that your Excellency should deign to approve my simple labour, 
remembering that the necessity of gaining for myself the wherewithal 
to live has left me no time to exercise myself with any instrument but 
the brush. Nor even with that have I reached that goal to which I 
think to be able to attain, now that Fortune promises me so much favour, 
that, with greater ease and greater credit for myself and with greater 
satisfaction to others, I may perchance be able, as well with the pen as 
with the brush, to unfold my ideas to the world, whatsoever they may 
be. For besides the help and protection for which I must hope from 
your Excellency, as my liege lord and as the protector of poor followers 
of the arts, it has pleased the goodness of God to elect as His Vicar on 
earth the most holy and most blessed Julius III, Supreme Pontiff and 
a friend and patron of every kind of excellence and of these most excel- 
lent and most difficult arts in particular, from whose exalted liberality 
I expect recompense for many years spent and many labours expended, 
and up to now without fruit. And not only I, who have dedicated 
myself to the perpetual service of His Holiness, but all the gifted crafts- 
men of this age, must expect from him such honour and reward and 
opportunities for practising the arts so greatly, that already I rejoice 
to see these arts arriving in his time at the greatest height of their 
perfection, and Rome adorned by craftsmen so many and so noble that, 
counting them with those of Florence, whom your Excellency is calling 
every day into activity, I hope that someone after our time will have 
to write a fourth part to my book, enriching it with other masters and 
other masterpieces than those described by me ; in which company I 
am striving with every effort not to be among the last. 

Meanwhile, I am content if your Excellency has good hope of me 
and a better opinion than that which, by no fault of mine, you have 
perchance conceived of me ; beseeching you not to let me be undone in 
your estimation by the malignant tales of other men, until at last my 
life and my works shall prove the contrary to what they say. 

Now with that intent to which I hold, always to honour and to 


serve your Excellency, dedicating to you this my rough labour, as I 
have dedicated to you every other thing of mine and my own self, I 
implore you not to disdain to grant it your protection, or at least to 
appreciate the devotion of him who offers it to you ; and recommending 
myself to your gracious goodness, most humbly do I kiss your hand. 

Your Excellency's most humble Servant, 


Painter oj Arezzo. 



Behold, seventeen years since I first presented to your most 
Illustrious Excellency the Lives, sketched so to speak, of the most famous 
painters, sculptors and architects, they come before you again, not 
indeed wholly finished, but so much changed from what they were and 
in such wise adorned and enriched with innumerable works, whereof up 
to that time I had been able to gain no further knowledge, that from 
my endeavour and in so far as in me lies nothing more can be looked 
for in them. 

Behold, I say, once again they come before you, most Illustrious 
and truly most Excellent Lord Duke, with the addition of other noble 
and right famous craftsmen, who from that time up to our own day have 
passed from the miseries of this life to a better, and of others who, 
although they are still living in our midst, have laboured in these pro- 
fessions to such purpose that they are most worthy of eternal memory. 
And in truth it has been no small good-fortune for many that I, b}' 
the goodness of Him in whom all things have their being, have lived 
so long that I have almost rewritten this book ; seeing that, even as I 
have removed many things which had been included I know not how, 
in my absence and without my consent, and have changed others, so 
too I have added many, both useful and necessary, that were lacking. 
And as for the likenesses and portraits of so many men of worth which 
I have placed in this work, whereof a great part have been furnished 
by the help and co-operation of your Excellency, if they are sometimes 
not very true to life, and if they all have not that character and resem- 

i . xvii c 

xviii DEDICATION OF 1568 

blance which the vivacity of colours is wont to give them, that is not 
because the drawing and the lineaments have not been taken from the 
life and are not characteristic and natural ; not to mention that a great 
part of them have been sent me by the friends that I have in various 
places, and they have not all been drawn by a good hand. Moreover, 
I have suffered no small inconvenience in this from the distance of those 
who have engraved these heads, because, if the engravers had been 
near me, it might perchance have been possible to use in this matter 
more diligence than has been shown. But however this may be, our 
lovers of art and our craftsmen, for the convenience and benefit of whom 
I have put myself to so great pains, must be wholly indebted to your 
most Illustrious Excellency for whatever they may find in it of the good, 
the useful, and the helpful, seeing that while engaged in your service 
I have had the opportunity, through the leisure which it has pleased 
you to give me and through the management of your many, nay, in- 
numerable treasures, to put together and to give to the world every- 
thing which appeared to be necessary for the perfect completion of 
this work ; and would it not be almost impiety, not to say ingratitude, 
were I to dedicate these Lives to another, or were the craftsmen to 
attribute to any other than yourself whatever they may find in them 
to give them help or pleasure ? For not only was it with your help and 
favour that they first came to the light, as now they do again, but you 
are, in imitation of your ancestors, sole father, sole lord, and sole pro- 
tector of these our arts. Wherefore it is very right and reasonable that 
by these there should be made, in your service and to your eternal and 
perpetual memory, so many most noble pictures and statues and so 
many marvellous buildings in every manner. 

But if we are all, as indeed we are beyond calculation, most deeply 
obliged to you for these and for other reasons, how much more do I 
not owe to you, who have always had (would that my brain and my hand 
had been equal to my desire and right good will) so many valuable 
opportunities to display my little knowledge, which, whatsoever it may 
be, fails by a very great measure to counterbalance the greatness and 
the truly royal magnificence of your mind ? But how may I tell ? It 


is in truth better that I should stay as I am than that I should set 
myself to attempt what would be to the most lofty and noble brain, and 
much more so to my insignificance, wholly impossible. 

Accept then, most Illustrious Excellency, this my book, or rather 
indeed your book, of the Lives of the craftsmen of design ; and like the 
Almighty God, looking rather at my soul and at my good intentions 
than at my work, take from me with right good will not what I would 
wish and ought to give, but what I can. 

Your most Illustrious Excellency's most indebted servant, 



January 9, 1568. 


Moxu proprio (et cet.). Cum, sicut accepimus, dilectus filius Philippus 
Junta, typographus Florentinus, ad communem studiosorum utilitatem, 
sua impensa, Vitas Illustrium Pictorum et Sculptorum Georgii Vasarii 
demum auctas et suis imaginibus exornatas, Statuta Equitum Meli- 
tensium in Italicam linguam translata, Receptariumque Novum pro 
Aromatariis, aliaque opera turn Latina, turn Italica, saneque utilia et 
necessaria, imprimi facere intendat, dubitetque ne hujusmodi opera 
postmodum ab aliis sine ejus licentia et in ejus grave praejudicium 
imprimantur ; nos propterea, illius indemnitati consulere volentes, motu 
simili et ex certa scientia, eidem Philippo concedimus et indulgemus 
ne praedicta opera, dummodo prius ab Inquisitore visa et approbata 
fuerint, per ipsum imprimenda, infra decennium a quoquo sine ipsius 
licentia imprimi aut vendi vel in apothecis teneri possint ; inhibentes 
omnibus et singulis Chris ti fidelibus tarn in Italia quam extra Italiam 
existentibus, sub excommunicationis lata sententia, in terris vero 
S.R.E. mediate vel immediate subjectis, etiam ducentorum ducatorum 
aiiri Camerae Apostolicse applicandorum et amissionis librorum poenis, 
totiens ipso facto et absque alia declaratione incurrendis quotiens con- 
tra ven turn fuerit, ne intra decennium praefatum dicta opera sine ejusdem 
Philippi expressa licentia imprimere, seu ab ipsis aut aliis impressa 
vendere, vel venalia habere ; mandantes universis veneralibus fratribus 
nostris Archiepiscopis, Episcopis, eorumque Vicariis in spiritualibus 
generalibus, et in Statu S.R.E. etiam Legatis, Vicelegatis, Praesidibus 
et Gubernatoribus, ut quoties pro ipsius Philippi parte fuerint requisiti, 
vel eorum aliquis fuerit requisitus, eidem, efficacis defensionis praesidio 
assistentes, praemissa contra inobedientes et rebelles, per censuras 



ecclesiasticas, etiam saepius aggravando, et per alia juris remedia, 
auctoritate Apostolica exequantur ; invocato etiam ad hoc, si opus 
fuerit, auxilio brachii ssecularis. Volumus autem quod praesentis motus 
proprii nostri sola signatura sufficiat, et ubique fidem faciat in judicio 
et extra, regula contraria non obstante et officii sanctissimse Inquisitionis 

Placet motu proprio M. 

Datum Romae apud Sanctum Petrum, quintodecimo Cal. Maij, 
anno secundo. 


IT was the wont of the finest spirits in all their actions, through a burning 
desire for glory, to spare no labour, however grievous, in order to bring 
their works to that perfection which might render them impressive 
and marvellous to the whole world ; nor could the humble fortunes of 
many prevent their energies from attaining to the highest rank, whether 
in order to live in honour or to leave in the ages to come eternal fame 
for all their rare excellence. And although, for zeal and desire so worthy 
of praise, they were, while living, highly rewarded by the liberality of 
Princes and by the splendid ambition of States, and even after death 
kept alive in the eyes of the world by the testimony of statues, tombs, 
medals, and other memorials of that kind ; none the less, it is clearly 
seen that the ravening maw of time has not only diminished by a great 
amount their own works and the honourable testimonies of others, but 
has also blotted out and destroyed the names of all those who have 
been kept alive by any other means than by the right vivacious and pious 
pens of writers. 

Pondering over this matter many a time in my own mind, and 
recognizing, from the example not only of the ancients but of the moderns 
as well, that the names of very many architects, sculptors, and painters, 
both old and modern, together with innumerable most beautiful works 
wrought by them, are going on being forgotten and destroyed little by 
little, and in such wise, in truth, that nothing can be foretold for them 
but a certain and wellnigh immediate death ; and wishing to defend 
them as much as in me lies from this second death, and to preserve 
them as long as may be possible in the memory of the living ; and having 
spent much time in seeking them out and used the greatest diligence 



in discovering the native city, the origin, and the actions of the crafts- 
men, and having with great labour drawn them from the tales of old 
men and from various records and writings, left by their heirs a prey 
to dust and food for worms ; and finally, having received from this both 
profit and pleasure, I have judged it expedient, nay rather, my duty, 
to make for them whatsoever memorial my weak talents and my small 
judgment may be able to make. In honour, then, of those who are 
already dead, and for the benefit, for the most part, of all the followers 
of these three most excellent arts, Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting, 
I will write the Lives of the craftsmen of each according to the times 
wherein they lived, step by step from Cimabue down to our own time ; 
not touching on the ancients save in so far as it may concern our subject, 
seeing that no more can be said of them than those so many writers 
have said who have come down to our own age. I will treat thoroughly 
of many things that appertain to the science of one or other of the said 
arts ; but before I come to the secrets of these, or to the history of the 
craftsmen, it seems to me right to touch a little on a dispute, born and 
bred between many without reason, as to the sovereignty and nobility, 
not of architecture, which they have left on one side, but of sculpture 
and painting ; there being advanced, on one side and on the other, many 
arguments whereof many, if not all, are worthy to be heard and discussed 
by their craftsmen. 

I say, then, that the sculptors, as being endowed, perchance by 
nature and by the exercise of their art, with a better habit of body, with 
more blood, and with more energy, and being thereby more hardy and 
more fiery than the painters, in seeking to give the highest rank to their 
art, argue and prove the nobility of sculpture primarily from its anti- 
quity, for the reason that God Almighty made man, who was the first 
statue ; and they say that sculpture embraces many more arts as kindred, 
and has many more of them subordinate to itself than has painting, 
such as low-relief, working in clay, wax, plaster, wood, and ivory, casting 
in metals, every kind of chasing, engraving and carving in relief on 
fine stones and steel, and many others which both in number and in 
difficulty surpass those of painting. And alleging, further, that those 



things which stand longest and best against time and can be preserved 
longest for the tise of men, for whose benefit and service they are made, 
are without doubt more useful and more worthy to be held in love and 
honour than are the others, they maintain that sculpture is by so much 
more noble than painting as it is more easy to preserve, both itself and 
the names of all who are honoured by it both in marble and in bronze, 
against all the ravages of time and air, than is painting, which, by its 
very nature, not to say by external accidents, perishes in the most 
sheltered and most secure places that architects have been able to provide. 
Nay more, they insist that the small number not merely of their excellent 
but even of their ordinary craftsmen, in contrast to the infinite number 
of the painters, proves their greater nobility ; saying that sculpture calls 
for a certain better disposition, both of mind and of body, that are 
rarely found together, whereas painting contents itself with any feeble 
temperament, so long as it has a hand, if not bold, at least sure ; and 
that this their contention is proved by the greater prices cited in par- 
ticular by Pliny, by the loves caused by the marvellous beauty of certain 
statues, and by the judgment of him who made the statue of sculpture 
of gold and that of painting of silver, and placed the first on the right 
and the second on the left. Nor do they even refrain from quoting 
the difficulties experienced before the materials, such as the marbles 
and the metals, can be got into subjection, and their value, in contrast 
to the ease of obtaining the panels, the canvases, and the colours, for 
the smallest prices and in every place ; and further, the extreme and 
grievous labour of handling the marbles and the bronzes, through their 
weight, and of working them, through the weight of the tools, in contrast 
to the lightness of the brushes, of the styles, and of the pens, chalk- 
holders, and charcoals ; besides this, that they exhaust their minds 
together with all the parts of their bodies, which is something very 
serious compared with the quiet and light work of the painter, using 
only his mind and hand. Moreover, they lay very great stress on the 
fact that things are more noble and more perfect in proportion as they 
approach more nearly to the truth, and they say that sculpture imitates 
the true form and shows its works on every side and from every point 
i. d 


of view, whereas painting, being laid on flat with most simple strokes of 
the brush and having but one light, shows but one aspect ; and many 
of them do not scruple to say that sculpture is as much superior to 
painting as is truth to falsehood. But as their last and strongest 
argument, they allege that for the sculptor there is necessary a perfection 
of judgment not only ordinary, as for the painter, but absolute and 
immediate, in a manner that it may see within the marble the exact 
whole of that figure which they intend to carve from it, and may be able 
to make many parts perfect without any other model before it combines 
and unites them together, as Michelagnolo has done divinely well; although, 
for lack of this happiness of judgment, they make easily and often 
some of those blunders which have no remedy, and which, when made, 
bear witness for ever to the slips of the chisel or to the small judgment 
of the sculptor. This never happens to painters, for the reason that at 
every slip of the brush or error of judgment that might befall them they 
have time, recognizing it themselves or being told by others, to cover 
and patch it up with the very brush that made it ; which brush, in their 
hands, has this advantage over the sculptor's chisels, that it not only 
heals, as did the iron of the spear of Achilles, but leaves its wounds 
without a scar. 

To these things the painters, answering not without disdain, say, in 
the first place, that if the sculptors wish to discuss the matter on the 
ground of the Scriptures the chief nobility is their own, and that the 
sculptors deceive themselves very grievously in claiming as their work 
the statue of our first father, which was made of earth ; for the art of 
this performance, both in its putting on and in its taking off, belongs no 
less to the painters than to others, and was called " plastice " by the 
Greeks and " fictoria " by the Latins, and was judged by Praxiteles 
to be the mother of sculpture, of casting, and of chasing, a fact which 
makes sculpture, in truth, the niece of painting, seeing that " plastice " 
and painting are born at one and the same moment from design. 
And they say that if we consider it apart from the Scriptures, the opinions 
of the ages are so many and so varied that it is difficult to believe one 
more than the other ; and that finally, considering this nobility as they 


wish it, in one place they lose and in the other they do not win, as may 
be seen more clearly in the Preface to the Lives. 

After this, in comparison with the arts related and subordinate to 
sculpture, they say that they have many more than the sculptors, 
because painting embraces the invention of history, the most difficult art 
of foreshortening, all the branches of architecture needful for the making 
of buildings, perspective, colouring in distemper, and the art of working in 
fresco, an art different and distinct from all the others ; likewise working 
in oils on wood, on stone, and on canvas ; illumination, too, an art 
different from all the others ; the staining of glass, mosaics in glass, the art 
of inlaying and making pictures with coloured woods, which is painting ; 
making sgraffito * work on houses with iron tools ; niello f work and 
printing from copper, both members of painting; goldsmith's enamel, 
ling, and the inlaying of gold for damascening ; the painting of glazed 
figures, and the making on earthenware vessels of scenes and figures to 
resist the action of water ; weaving brocades with figures and flowers, 
and that most beautiful invention, woven tapestries, that are both con- 
venient and magnificent, being able to carry painting into every place, 
whether savage or civilized ; not to mention that in every department of 
art that has to be practised, design, which is our design, is used by all ; 
so that the members of painting are more numerous and more useful than 
those of sculpture. They do not deny the eternity, for so the others call 
it, of sculpture, but they say that this is no privilege that should make 
the art more noble than it is by nature, seeing that it comes simply from, 
the material, and that if length of life were to give nobility to souls, 
the pine, among the plants, and the stag, among the animals, would have 
a soul more noble beyond compare than that of men ; although they could 
claim a similar immortality and nobility in their mosaics, seeing that 

* The process of sgraffito work is described in Professor Baldwin Brown's notes to 
" Vasari on Technique " as follows : " A wall is covered with a layer of tinted plaster, 
and on this is superimposed a thin coating of white plaster. This outer coating is scratched 
through (with an iron tool), and the colour behind is revealed. Then all the surface outside 
the design is cut away, and a cameo-like effect is given to the design." 

f The process of niello is as follows : A design is engraved on silver or bronze, and 
the lines of the design are filled with a composition of silver and lead. On the application 
of fire to the whole, this composition turns black, leaving the design strongly outlined. 


there may be seen some as ancient as the most ancient sculptures that are 
in Rome, and that they used to be made of jewels and fine stones. And 
as for their small or smaller number, they declare that this is not because 
the art calls for a better habit of body and greater judgment, but that 
it depends wholly on the poverty of their resources and on the little 
favour, or avarice, as we would rather call it, of rich men, who give them 
no supply of marble and no opportunity to work ; in contrast with what 
may be believed, nay, seen to have happened in ancient times, when 
sculpture rose to its greatest height. Indeed, it is manifest that he who 
cannot use and waste a small quantity of marble and hard stone, which 
are very costly, cannot have that practice in the art that is essential ; 
he who does not practise does not learn it ; and he who does not learn 
it can do no good. Wherefore they should rather excuse with these 
arguments the imperfection and the small number of their masters, 
than seek to deduce nobility from them under false colours. As for 
the higher prices of sculptures, they answer that, although theirs might 
be much less, they have not to share them, being content with a boy 
who grinds their colours and hands them their brushes or their cheap 
stools, whereas the sculptors, besides the great cost of their material, 
require many aids and spend more time on one single figure than they 
themselves do on very many; wherefore their prices appear to come 
from the quality and the durability of the material itself, from the aids 
that it requires for its completion, and from the time that is taken in 
working it, rather than from the excellence of the art itself. And although 
that does not suffice and no greater price is found, as would be easily 
seen by anyone who were willing to consider it diligently, let them find 
a greater price than the marvellous, beautiful, and living gift that 
Alexander the Great made in return for the most splendid and excellent 
work of Apelles, bestowing on him, not vast treasures or high estate, 
but his own beloved and most beautiful Campaspe ; let them observe, in 
addition, that Alexander was young, enamoured of her, and naturally 
subject to the passions of love, and also both a King and a Greek ; and 
then, from this, let them draw what conclusion they please. As for the 
loves of Pygmalion and of those other rascals no more worthy to be 


men, cited as proof of the nobility of the art, they know not what to 
answer, if, from a very great blindness of intellect and from a licentious- 
ness unbridled beyond all natural bounds, there can be made a proof of 
nobility. As for the man, whosoever he was, alleged by the sculptors to 
have made sculpture of gold and painting of silver, they are agreed that 
if he had given as much sign of judgment as of wealth, there would be 
no disputing it ; and finally, they conclude that the ancient Golden 
Fleece, however celebrated it may be, none the less covered nothing but 
an unintelligent ram ; wherefore neither the testimony of riches nor 
that of dishonest desires, but those of letters, of practice, of excellence, 
and of judgment are those to which we must pay attention. Nor do 
they make any answer to the difficulty of obtaining the marbles and the 
metals, save this, that it springs from their own poverty and from the 
little favour of the powerful, as has been said, and not from any degree 
of greater nobility. To the extreme fatigues of the body and to the 
dangers peculiar to them and to their works, laughing and without any 
ado they answer that if greater fatigues and dangers prove greater 
nobility, the art of quarrying the marbles from the bowels of mountains 
by means of wedges, levers, and hammers must be more noble than 
sculpture, that of the blacksmith must surpass the goldsmith's, and 
that of masonry must be superior to architecture. 

They say, next, that the true difficulties lie rather in the mind than 
in the body, wherefore those things that from their nature call for more 
study and knowledge are more noble and excellent than those that avail 
themselves rather of strength of body ; and they declare that since the 
painters rely more on the worth of the mind than the others, this highest 
honour belongs to painting. For the sculptors the compasses and squares 
suffice to discover and apply all the proportions and measurements whereof 
they have need ; for the painters there is necessary, besides the knowledge 
how to make good use of the aforesaid instruments, an accurate understand- 
ing of perspective, for the reason that they have to provide a thousand 
other things beyond landscapes and buildings, not to mention that they 
must have greater judgment by reason of the quantity of the figures 
in one scene, wherein more errors can come than in a single statue. For 


the sculptor it is enough to be acquainted with the true forms and 
features of solid and tangible bodies, subordinate on every side to the 
touch, and moreover of those only that have something to support them. 
For the painter it is necessary to know the forms not only of all the 
bodies supported and not supported, but also of all those transparent 
and intangible ; and besides this they must know the colours that are 
suitable for the said bodies, whereof the multitude and the variety, so 
absolute and admitting of such infinite extension, are demonstrated 
better by the flowers, the fruits, and the minerals than by anything 
else ; and this knowledge is supremely difficult to acquire and to 
maintain, by reason of their infinite variety. They say, moreover, that 
whereas sculpture, through the stubbornness and the imperfection of 
the material, does not represent the emotions of the soul save with 
motion, which does not, however, find much scope therein, and with the 
mere shape of the limbs and not even of all these ; the painters demon- 
strate them with all the forms of motion, which are infinite, with the 
shape of the limbs, however subtle they may be, and even with breath 
itself and the spiritual essence of sight ; and that, for greater perfection 
in demonstrating not only the passions and emotions of the soul but 
also the events of the future, as living men do, they must have, besides 
long practice in the art, a complete understanding of physiognomy, 
whereof that part suffices for the sculptor which deals with the quantity 
and the quality of the members, without troubling about the quality 
of colours, as to the knowledge of which anyone who judges by the 
eye knows how useful and necessary it is for the true imitation of nature, 
whereunto the closer a man approaches the more perfect he is. 

After this they add that whereas sculpture, taking away bit by 
bit, at one and the same time gives depth to and acquires relief for those 
things that have solidity by their own nature, and makes use of touch 
and sight, the painters, in two distinct actions, give relief and depth to 
a flat surface with the help of one single sense ; and this, when it has been 
done by a person intelligent in the art, has caused many great men, not 
to speak of animals, to stand fast in the most pleasing illusion, which 
has never been seen to be done by sculpture, for the reason that it does 


not imitate nature in a manner that may be called as perfect as 
their own. And^finally, in answer to that complete and absolute per- 
fection of judgment which is required for sculpture, by reason of its 
having no means to add where it takes away ; declaring, first, that such 
mistakes are irreparable, as the others say, and not to be remedied save 
by patches, which, even as in garments they are signs of poverty of 
wardrobe, so too both in sculpture and in pictures are signs of poverty 
of intellect and judgment ; and saying, further, that patience, at its own 
leisure, by means of models, protractors, squares, compasses, and a 
thousand other devices and instruments for enlarging, not only preserves 
them from mistakes but enables them to bring their whole work to its 
perfection ; they conclude, then, that this difficulty which they put 
down as the greater is nothing or little when compared to those which 
the painters have when working in fresco, and that the said perfection of 
judgment is in no way more necessary for sculptors than for painters, it 
being sufficient for the former to execute good models in wax, clay, or 
something else, even as the latter make their drawings on corresponding 
materials or on cartoons ; and that finally, the quality that little by 
little transfers their models to the marble is rather patience than aught 

But let us consider about judgment, as the sculptors wish, and see 
whether it is not more necessary to one who works in fresco than to one 
who chisels in marble. For here not only is there no place for patience 
or for time, which are most mortal enemies to the union of the plaster 
and the colours, but the eye does not see the true colours until the plaster 
is well dry, nor can the hand judge of anything but of the soft or the 
dry, in a manner that anyone who were to call it working in the dark, 
or with spectacles of colours different from the truth, would not in my 
belief be very far wrong. Nay, I do not doubt at all that such a 
name is more suitable for it than for intaglio, for which wax serves as 
spectacles both true and good. They say, too, that for this work 
it is necessary to have a resolute judgment, to foresee the end in the 
fresh plaster and how the work will turn out on the dry ; besides that 
the work cannot be abandoned so long as the plaster is still fresh, and 


that it is necessary to do resolutely in one day what sculpture does in a 
month. And if a man has not this judgment and this excellence, there 
are seen, on the completion of his work or in time, patches, blotches, 
corrections, and colours superimposed or retouch ed v on the dry^ which 
is something of the vilest, because afterwards mould appears and reveals 
the insufficiency and the small knowledge of the craftsmen, even as the 
pieces added in sculpture lead to ugliness ; not to mention that when it 
comes about that the figures in fresco are washed, as is often done after 
some time to restore them, what has been worked on the fresh plaster 
remains, and what has been retouched on the dry is carried away by the 
wet sponge. 

They add, moreover, that whereas the sculptors make two figures 
together, or at the most three, from one block of marble, they make 
many of them on one single panel, with all those so many and so varied 
aspects which the sculptors claim for one single statue, compensating 
with the variety of their postures, foreshortenings, and attitudes, for the 
fact that the work of the sculptors can be seen from every side ; even as 
Giorgione da Castelfranco did once in one of his pictures, wherein a 
figure with its back turned, having a mirror on either side, and a pool 
of water at its feet, shows its back in the painting, its front in the 
pool, and its sides in the mirrors, which is something that sculpture 
has never been able to do. In addition to this, they maintain that 
painting leaves not one of the elements unadorned and not abounding 
with all the excellent things that nature has bestowed on them, giving 
its own light and its own darkness to the air, with all its varieties of 
feeling, and filling it with all the kinds of birds together ; to water, its 
clearness, the fishes, the mosses, the foam, the undulations of the waves, 
the ships, and all its various moods ; and to the earth, the mountains, the 
plains, the plants, the fruits, the flowers, the animals, and the buildings ; 
with so great a multitude of things and so great a variety of their forms 
and of their true colours, that nature herself many a time stands in a 
marvel thereat ; and finally, giving to fire so much of its heat and light 
that it is clearly seen burning things, and, almost quivering with its 
flames, rendering luminous in part the thickest darkness of the night. 


Wherefore it appears to them that they can justly conclude and declare 
that contrasting the difficulties of the sculptors with their own, the 
labours of the body with those of the mind, the imitation of the mere 
form with the imitation of the impression, both of quantity and of quality, 
that strikes the eye, the small number of the subjects wherein sculpture 
can and does demonstrate its excellence with the infinite number of 
those which painting presents to us (not to mention the perfect preserva- 
tion of them for the intellect and the distribution of them in those places 
wherein nature herself has not done so) ; and finally, weighing the whole 
content of the one with that of the other, the nobility of sculpture, as 
shown by the intellect, the invention, and the judgment of its craftsmen, 
does not correspond by a great measure to that which painting enjoys 
and deserves. And this is all that on the one side and on the other j 
has come to my ears that is worthy of consideration. 

But because it appears to me that the sculptors have spoken with 
too much heat and the painters with too much disdain, and seeing that 
I have long enough studied the works of sculpture and have ever exercised 
myself in painting, however small, perhaps, may be the fruit that is to 
be seen of it ; none the less, by reason of that which it is worth, and by 
reason of the undertaking of these writings, judging it my duty to demon- 
strate the judgment that I have ever made of it in my own mind (and 
may my authority avail the most that it can), I will declare my opinion 
surely and briefly over such a dispute, being convinced that I will not 
incur any charge of presumption or of ignorance, seeing that I will not 
treat of the arts of others, as many have done before to the end that 
they might appear to the crowd intelligent in all things by means of 
letters, and as happened, among others, to Phormio the Peripatetic of 
Ephesus, who, in order to display his eloquence, lecturing and making 
disputation about the virtues and parts of the excellent captain, made 
Hannibal laugh not less at his presumption than at his ignorance. 

I say, then, that sculpture and painting are in truth sisters, born 
from one father, that is, design, at one and the same birth, and have no ! 
precedence one over the other, save insomuch as the worth and the i 
strength of those who maintain them make one craftsman surpass another, 

I. e 


and not by reason of any difference or degree of nobility that is in truth 
to be found between them. And although by reason of the diversity 
of their essence they have many different advantages, these are neither 
so great nor of such a kind that they do not come exactly into balance 
together and that we do not perceive the infatuation or the obstinacy, 
rather than the judgment, of those who wish one to surpass the other. 
Wherefore it may be said with reason that one and the same soul rules 
the bodies of both, and by reason of this I conclude that those do evil 
who strive to disunite and to separate the one from the other. Heaven, 
wishing to undeceive us in this matter and to show us the kinship and 
union of these two most noble arts, has raised up in our midst at various 
times many sculptors who have painted and many painters who have 
worked in sculpture, as will be seen in the Life of Antonio del Pollaiuolo, 
of Leonardo da Vinci, and of many others long since passed away. But 
in our own age the Divine Goodness has created for us Michelagnolo 
Buonarroti, in whom both these arts shine forth so perfect and appear 
so similar and so closely united, that the painters marvel at his pictures 
and the sculptors feel for the sculptures wrought by him supreme admira- 
tion and reverence. On him, to the end that he might not perchance 
need to seek from some other master some convenient resting-place for 
the figures that he wrought, nature has bestowed so generously the 
science of architecture, that without having need of others he has 
strength and power within himself to give to this or the other image 
made by himself an honourable and suitable resting-place, in a manner 
that he rightly deserves to be called the king of sculptors, the prince 
of painters, and the most excellent of architects, nay rather, of architec- 
ture the true master. And indeed we can affirm with certainty that 
those do in no way err who call him divine, seeing that he has within 
his own self embraced the three arts most worthy of praise and most 
ingenious that are to be found among mortal men, and that with these, 
after the manner of a God, he can give us infinite delight. And let this 
suffice for the dispute raised between the factions, and for our own 

Now, returning to my first intention, I say that, wishing in so far 


as it lies within the reach of my powers to drag fromHhe ravening maw 
of time the names of the sculptors, painters, and architects, who, from 
Cimabue to the present day, have been of some notable excellence in 
Italy, and desiring that this my labour may be no less useful than it has 
been pleasant to me in the undertaking, it appears to me necessary, 
before we come to the history, to make as briefly as may be an introduction 
w< to these three arts, wherein those were valiant of whom I am to write 
the Lives, to the end that every gracious spirit may first learn the 
most notable things in their professions, and afterwards may be able 
with greater pjgasure and benefit to see clearly in what they were 
different among themselves, and how great adornment and convenience 
they give to their countries and to all who wish to avail themselves of 
their industry and knowledge. 

I will begin, then, with architecture, as the most universal and the 
^ most necessary and useful to men, and as that for the service and adorn- 
ment of which the two others exist ; and I will expound briefly the 
varieties of stone, the manners or methods of construction, with their 
proportions, and how one may recognize buildings that are good and 
well-conceived. Afterwards, discoursing of sculpture, I will tell how 
statues are wrought, the form and the proportion that are looked for 
in them, and of what kind are good sculptures, with all the most secret 
and most necessary precepts. Finally, treating of painting, I will speak 
of draughtsmanship, of the methods of colouring, of the perfect execution 
of any work, of the quality of the pictures themselves, and of whatso- 
ever thing appertains to painting ; of every kind of mosaic, of niello, of 
enamelling, of damascening, and then, lastly, of the printing of pictures. 
And in this way I am convinced that these my labours will delight those 
who are not engaged in these pursuits, and will both delight and help 
those who have made them a profession. For not to mention that in /' 
the Introduction they will review the methods of working, and that in 
the Lives of the craftsmen themselves they will learn where their works 
are, and how to recognize easily their perfection or imperfection and 
to discriminate between one manner and another, they will also be able 
to perceive how much praise and honour that man deserves who adds 


upright ways and goodness of life to the excellencies of arts so noble. 
Kindled by the praise that those so constituted have obtained, they too 
will aspire to true glory. Nor will little fruit be gathered from (the) 
history, true guide and mistress of our actions, in reading of the infinite 
variety of innumerable accidents that befell the craftsmen, sometimes 
by their own fault and very often by chance. 

It remains for me to make excuse for having on occasion used some 
words of indifferent Tuscan, whereof I do not wish to speak, having 
ever taken thought to use rather the words and names particular and 
proper to our arts than the delicate or choice words of precious writers. 
Let me be allowed, then, to use in their proper speech the words proper 
to our craftsmen, and let all content themselves with my good will, 
which has bestirred itself to produce this result not in order to teach 
to others what I do not know myself, but through a desire to preserve 
this memory at least of the most celebrated craftsmen, seeing that in so 
many decades I have not yet been able to see one who has made much 
record of them. For I have wished with these my rough labours, 
adumbrating their noble deeds, to repay to them in some measure the 
debt that I owe to their works, which have been to me as masters for 
the learning of whatsoever I know, rather than, living in sloth, to be a 
malignant critic of the works of others, blaming and decrying them as 
men are often wont to do. But it is now time to come to our business. 


I HAVE no manner of doubt that it is with almost all writers a common 
and deeply-fixed opinion that sculpture and painting together were first 
discovered, by the light of nature, by the people of Egypt, and that 
there are certain others who attribute to the Chaldaeans the first rough 
sketches in marble and the first reliefs in statuary, even as they also 
give to the Greeks the invention of the brush and of colouring. But I 
will surely say that of both one and the other of these arts the design, 
which is their foundation, nay rather, the very soul that conceives and 
nourishes within itself all the parts of man's intellect, was already most 
perfect before the creation of all other things, when the Almighty God, 
having made the great body of the world and having adorned the heavens 
with their exceeding bright lights, descended lower with His intellect 
into the clearness of the air and the solidity of the earth, and, shaping 
man, discovered, together with the lovely creation of all things, the first 
form of sculpture ; from which man afterwards, step by step (and this 
may not be denied), as from a true pattern, there were taken statues, 
sculptures, and the science of pose and of outline ; and for the first 
pictures (whatsoever they were), softness, harmony, and the concord 
in discord that comes from light and shade. Thus, then, the first model 
whence there issued the first image of man was a lump of clay, and not 
without reason, seeing that the Divine Architect of time and of nature, 
being Himself most perfect, wished to show in the imperfection of the 
material the way to add and to take away ; in the same manner wherein 
the good sculptors and painters are wont to work, who, adding and taking 
away in their models, bring their imperfect sketches to that final per- 
fection which they desire. He gave to man that most vivid colour of 



flesh, whence afterwards there were drawn for painting, from the mines 
of the earth, the colours themselves for the counterfeiting of all those 
things that are required for pictures. It is true, indeed, that it cannot 
be affirmed for certain what was made by the men before the Flood in 
these arts in imitation of so beautiful a work, although it is reasonable 
to believe that they too carved and painted in every manner ; seeing that 
Belus, son of the proud Nimrod, about 200 years after the Flood, caused 
to be made that statue wherefrom there was afterwards born idolatry, 
and his son's wife, the very famous Semiramis, Queen of Babylon, in 
the building of that city, placed among its adornments not only diverse 
varied kinds of animals, portrayed and coloured from nature, but also 
the image of herself and of Ninus, her husband, and, moreover, statues 
in bronze of her husband's father, of her husband's mother, and of 
the mother of the latter, as Diodorus relates, calling them by the Greek 
names (that did not yet exist), Jove, Juno, and Ops. From these 
statues, perchance, the Chaldaeans learnt to make the images of their 
gods, seeing that 150 years later Rachel, in flying from Mesopotamia 
together with Jacob her husband, stole the idols of Laban her father, 
as is clearly related in Genesis. Nor, indeed, were the Chaldaeans alone 
in making sculptures and pictures, but the Egyptians made them also, 
exercising themselves in these arts with that so great zeal which is shown 
in the marvellous tomb of the most ancient King Osimandyas, copiously 
described by Diodorus, and proved by the stern commandment made 
by Moses in the Exodus from Egypt, namely, that under pain of death 
there should be made to God no image whatsoever. He, on descending 
from the mountain, having found the golden calf wrought and adored 
solemnly by his people, and being greatly perturbed to see Divine honours 
paid to the image of a beast, not only broke it and reduced it to powder, 
but for punishment of so great a sin caused many thousands of the 
wicked sons of Israel to be slain by the Levites. But because not the 
making of statues but their adoration was a deadly sin, we read in 
Exodus that the art of design and of statuary, not only in marble but 
in every kind of metal, was bestowed by the mouth of God on Bezaleel, 
of the tribe of Judah, and on Aholiab, of the tribe of Dan, who were 


those that made the two cherubim of gold, the candlesticks, the veil, 
the borders of the priestly vestments, and so many other most 
beautiful castings for the Tabernacle, for no other reason than to bring 
the people to contemplate and to adore them. 

From the things seen before the Flood, then, the pride of men found 
the way to make the statues of those for whom they wished that they 
should remain famous and immortal in the world. And the Greeks, who 
think differently about this origin, say that the Ethiopians invented 
the first statues, as Diodorus tells ; that the Egyptians took them from 
the Ethiopians, and, from them, the Greeks ; for by Homer's time 
sculpture and painting are seen to have been perfected, as it is proved, 
in discoursing of the shield of Achilles, by that divine poet, who shows it 
to us carved and painted, rather than described, with every form of art. 
Lactantius Firmianus, by way of fable, attributes it to Prometheus, 
who, in the manner of Almighty God, shaped man's image out of mud ; 
and from him, he declares, the art of statuary came. But according 
to what Pliny writes, this came to Egypt from Gyges the Lydian, who, 
being by the fire and gazing at his own shadow, suddenly, with some 
charcoal in his hand, drew his own outline on the wall. And from that 
age, for a time, outlines only were wont to be used, with no body of 
colour, as the same Pliny confirms ; which method was rediscovered 
with more labour by Philocles the Egyptian, and likewise by Cleanthes 
and Ardices of Corinth and by Telephanes of Sicyon. 

Cleophantes of Corinth was the first among the Greeks who used 
colours, and Apollodorus the first who discovered the brush. There 
followed Polygnotus of Thasos, Zeuxis, and Timagoras of Chalcis, with 
Pythias and Aglaophon, all most celebrated ; and after these the most 
famous Apelles, so much esteemed and honoured by Alexander the Great for 
his talent, and the most ingenious investigator of slander and false favour, 
as Lucian shows us ; even as almost all the excellent painters and sculptors 
were endowed by Heaven, in nearly every case, not only with the adorn- 
ment of poetry, as may be read of Pacuvius, but with philosophy besides, 
as may be seen in Metrodorus, who, being as well versed in philo- 
sophy as in painting, was sent by the Athenians to Paulus Emilius 


to adorn his triumph, and remained with him to read philosophy to 
his sons. 

The art of sculpture, then, was greatly exercised in Greece, 
and there appeared many excellent craftsmen, and, among others, 
Pheidias, an Athenian, with Praxiteles and Polycletus, all very great 
masters, while Lysippus and Pyrgoteles were excellent in sunk reliefs, 
and Pygmalion in reliefs in ivory, of whom there is a fable that by his 
prayers he obtained breath and spirit for the figure of a virgin that he 
made. Painting, likewise, was honoured and rewarded by the ancient 
Greeks and Romans, seeing that to those who made it appear marvellous 
they showed favour by bestowing on them citizenship and the highest 
dignities. So greatly did this art flourish in Rome that Fabius gave 
renown to his house by writing his name under the things so beautifully 
painted by him in the temple of Salus, and calling himself Fabius Pictor. 
It was forbidden by public decree that slaves should exercise this art 
throughout the cities, and so much honour did the nations pay without 
ceasing to the art and to the craftsmen that the rarest works were sent 
among the triumphal spoils, as marvellous things, to Rome, and the 
finest craftsmen were freed from slavery and recompensed with honours 
and rewards by the commonwealths. 

The Romans themselves bore so great reverence for these arts that 
besides the respect that Marcellus, in sacking the city of Syracuse, 
commanded to be paid to a craftsman famous in them, in planning the 
assault of the aforesaid city they took care not to set fire to that quarter 
wherein there was a most beautiful painted panel, which was afterwards 
carried to Rome in the triumph, with much pomp. Thither, having, 
so to speak, despoiled the world, in course of time they assembled the 
craftsmen themselves as well as their finest works, wherewith afterwards 
Rome became so beautiful, for the reason that she gained so great adorn- 
ment from the statues from abroad more than from her own native 
ones ; it being known that in Rhodes, the city of an island in no way 
large, there were more than 30,000 statues counted, either in bronze or 
in marble, nor did the Athenians have less, while those at Olympia and 
at Delphi were many more and those in Corinth numberless, and all 


were most beautiful and of the greatest value. Is it not known that 
Nicomedes, King of Lycia, in his eagerness for a Venus that was by the 
hand of Praxiteles, spent on it almost all the wealth of his people ? Did 
not Attalus the same, who, in order to possess the picture of Bacchus 
painted by Aristides, did not scruple to spend on it more than 6,000 
sesterces ? Which picture was placed by Lucius Mummius in the temple 
of Ceres with the greatest pomp, in order to adorn Rome. 

But for all that the nobility of these arts was so highly valued, it 
is none the less not yet known for certain who gave them their first 
beginning. For, as has been already said above, it appears most ancient 
among the Chaldseans, some give it to the Ethiopians, and the Greeks 
attribute it to themselves ; and it may be thought, not without reason, 
that it is perchance even more ancient among the Etruscans, as our Leon 
Batista Alberti testifies, whereof we have clear enough proof in the 
marvellous tomb of Porsena at Chiusi, where, no long time since, there 
were discovered underground, between the walls of the Labyrinth, some 
terracotta tiles with figures on them in half-relief, so excellent and in 
so beautiful a manner that it can be easily recognized that the art was 
not begun precisely at that time, nay rather, by reason of the perfection 
of these works, that it was much nearer its height than its beginning. 
To this, moreover, witness is likewise borne by our seeing every day 
many pieces of those red and black vases of Arezzo, made, as may be 
judged from the manner, about those times, with the most delicate carvings 
and small figures and scenes in low-relief, and many small round masks 
wrought with great subtlety by masters of that age, men most experienced, 
a.s is shown by the effect, and most excellent in that art. It may be seen, 
moreover, by reason of the statues found at Viterbo at the beginning of 
the pontificate of Alexander VI, that sculpture was in great esteem and 
in no small perfection among the Etruscans ; and although it is not known 
precisely at what time they were made, it may be reasonably conjectured, 
both from the manner of the figures and from the style of the tombs and 
of the buildings, no less than from the inscriptions in those Etruscan 
letters, that they are most ancient and were made at a time when the 
affairs of this country were in a good and prosperous state. But what 
i. / 


clearer proof of this can be sought ? seeing that in our own day that 
is, in the year 1554 there has been found a bronze figure of the Chimaera 
of Bellerophon, in making the ditches, fortifications, and walls of Arezzo, 
from which figure it is recognized that the perfection of that art existed 
in ancient times among the Etruscans, as may be seen from the Etruscan 
manner and still more from the letters carved on a paw, about which 
since they are but few and there is no one now who understands the 
Etruscan tongue it is conjectured that they may represent the name of 
the master as well as that of the figure itself, and perchance also the 
date, according to the use of those times. This figure, by reason of its 
beauty and antiquity, has been placed in our day by the Lord Duke 
Cosimo in the hall of the new rooms in his Palace, wherein there have 
been painted by me the acts of Pope Leo X. And besides this there 
were found in the same place many small figures in bronze after the 
same manner, which are in the hands of the said Lord Duke. 

But since the dates of the works of the Greeks, the Ethiopians, and 
the Chaldaeans are as doubtful as our own, and perhaps more, and by 
reason of the greater need of founding our judgment about these works 
on conjectures, which, however, are not so feeble that they are in every 
way wide of the mark, I believe that I strayed not at all from the truth 
(and I think that everyone who will consent to consider this question 
discreetly will judge as I did), when I said above that the origin of 
these arts was nature herself, and the example or model, the most 
beautiful fabric of the world, and the master, that divine light infused 
by special grace into us, which has not only made us superior to the 
other animals, but, if it be not sin to say it, like to God. And if in our own 
times it has been seen (as I trust to be able to demonstrate a little later 
by many examples) that simple children roughly reared in the woods, 
with their only model in the beautiful pictures and sculptures of nature, 
and by the vivacity of their wit, have begun by themselves to make 
designs, how much more may we, nay, must we confidently believe 
that these primitive men, who, in proportion as they were less distant 
from their origin and divine creation, were thereby the more perfect 
and of better intelligence, that they, by themselves, having for guide 


nature, for master purest intellect, and for example the so lovely model 

of the world, gave birth to these most noble arts, and from a small 
beginning, little by little bettering them, brought them at last to per- 
fection? I do not, indeed, wish to deny that there was one among 
them who was the first to begin, seeing that I know very well that it 
must needs be that at some time and from some one man there came 
the beginning ; nor, also, will I deny that it may have been possible that 
one helped another and taught and opened the way to design, to colour, 
and relief, because/I know that (our art is all imitation, of nature for the 
most parti and then, because a man cannot by himself rise so high, 1 of 
those works that are executed by those whom he judges to be better 
masters than himselfy But I say surely that the wishing to affirm 
dogmatically who this man or these men were is a thing very perilous 
to judge, and perchance little necessary to know, provided that we see 
the true root and origin wherefrom art was born. For since, of the 
works that are the life and the glory of the craftsmen, the first and step 
by step the second and the third were lost by reason of time, that con- 
sumes all things, and since, for lack of writers at that time, they could not, 
at least in that way, become known to posterity, their craftsmen as well 
came to be forgotten. But when once the writers began to make record 
of things that were before their day, they could not speak of those whereof 
they had not been able to have information, in a manner that there came 
to be first with them those of whom the memory had been the last to be 
lost. Even as the first of the poets, by common consent, is said to be 
Homer, not because there were none before him, for there were, although 
not so excellent, which is seen clearly from his own works, but because 
of these early poets, whatever manner of men they were, all knowledge 
had been lost quite 2,000 years before. However, leaving behind us this 
part, as too uncertain by reason of its antiquity, let us come to the clearer 
matters of their perfection, ruin, and restoration, or rather resurrection, 
whereof we will be able to discourse on much better grounds. 

I say, then, it being true indeed, that they began late in Rome, if 
the first figure was, as is said, the image of Ceres made of metal from 
the treasure of Spurius Cassius, who, for conspiring to make himself 


King, was put to death by his own father without any scruple ; and that 
although the arts of sculpture and of painting continued up to the end 
of the twelve Caesars, they did not, however, continue in that perfection 
and excellence which they had enjoyed before, for it may be seen from 
the edifices that the Emperors built in succession one after the other 
that these arts, decaying from one day to another, were coming little 
by little to lose their whole perfection of design. And to this clear 
testimony is borne by the works of sculpture and of architecture that were 
wrought in the time of Constantine in Rome, and in particular the 
triumphal arch raised for him by the Roman people near the Colossexim, 
wherein it is seen that in default of good masters they not only made 
use of marble groups made at the time of Trajan, but also of the spoils 
brought from various places to Rome. And whosoever knows that the 
votive offerings in the medallions, that is, the sculptures in half-relief, 
and likewise the prisoners, and the large groups, and the columns, and 
the mouldings, and the other ornaments, whether made before or from 
spoils, are excellently wrought, knows also that the works which were 
made to fill up by the sculptors of that time are of the rudest, as also 
are certain small groups with little figures in marble below the medallions, 
and the lowest base wherein there are certain victories, and certain rivers 
between the arches at the sides, which are very rude and so made that 
it can be believed most surely that by that time the art of sculpture 
had begun to lose something of the good. And there had not yet 
come the Goths and the other barbarous and outlandish peoples who 
destroyed, together with Italy, all the finer arts. It is true, indeed, that 
in the said times architecture had suffered less harm than the other 
arts of design had suffered, for in the bath that Constantine erected 
on the Lateran, in the entrance of the principal porch it may be seen, 
to say nothing of the porphyry columns, the capitals wrought in marble, 
and the double bases taken from some other place and very well carved, 
that the whole composition of the building is very well conceived ; 
whereas, on the contrary, the stucco, the mosaics, and certain incrusta- 
tions on the walls made by masters of that time are not equal to those 
that he caused to be placed in the same bath, which were taken for the 


most part from the temples of the heathen gods. Constantino, so it is 
said, did the same in the garden of ^Equitius, in making the temple 
which he afterwards endowed and gave to the Christian priests. In like 
manner, the magnificent Church of S. Giovanni Laterano, erected by the 
same Emperor, can bear witness to the same namely, that in his day 
sculpture had already greatly declined ; for the image of the Saviour and 
the twelve Apostles in silver that he caused to be made were very debased 
sculptures, wrought without art and with very little design. Besides 
this, whosoever examines with diligence the medals of Constantine and 
his image and other statues made by the sculptors of that time, which 
are at the present day in the Campidoglio, may see clearly that they are 
very far removed from the perfection of the medals and statues of the 
other Emperors ; and all this shows that long before the coming of the 
Goths into Italy sculpture had greatly declined. 

Architecture, as has been said, continued to maintain itself, if not 
so perfect, in a better state ; nor is there reason to marvel at this, seeing 
that, as the great edifices were made almost wholly of spoils, it was 
easy for the architects, in making the new, to imitate in great measure 
the old, which they had ever before their eyes, and that much more 
easily than the sculptors could imitate the good figures of the ancients, 
their art having wholly vanished. And that this is true is manifest, 
because the Church of the Prince of the Apostles on the Vatican was 
not rich save in columns, bases, capitals, architraves, mouldings, doors, 
and other incrustations and ornaments, which were all taken from various 
places and from the edifices built most magnificently in earlier times. 
The same could be said of S. Croce in Gierusalemme, which Con- 
stantine erected at the entreaty of his mother Helena, of S. Lorenzo 
without the walls of Rome, and of S. Agnesa, built by him at the 
request of Constantia, his daughter. And who does not know that the 
font which served for the baptism of both her and her sister was all 
adorned with works wrought long before, and in particular with the 
porphyry basin carved with most beautiful figures, with certain marble 
candlesticks excellently carved with foliage, and with some boys in 
low-relief that are truly most beautiful ? In short, for these and many 


other reasons it is clear how much, in the time of Constantine, sculpture 
had already declined, and together with it the other finer arts. And 
if anything was wanting to complete this ruin, it was supplied to them 
amply by the departure of Constantine from Rome, on his going to 
establish the seat of the Empire at Byzantium ; for the reason that he 
took with him not only all the best sculptors and other craftsmen of 
that age, whatsoever manner of men they were, but also an infinite 
number of statues and other works of sculpture, all most beautiful. 

After the departure of Constantine, the Caesars whom he left in 
Italy, building continually both in Rome and elsewhere, exerted them- 
selves to make their works as fine as they could ; but, as may be seen, 
sculpture, as well as painting and architecture, went ever from bad to 
worse, and this perchance came to pass because, when human affairs 
begin to decline, they never cease to go ever lower and lower until such 
time as they can grow no worse. So, too, it may be seen that although 
at the time of Pope Liberius the architects of that day strove to do 
something great in constructing the Church of S. Maria Maggiore, they 
were yet not happy in the success of the whole, for the reason that 
although that building, which is likewise composed for the greater part 
of spoils, was made with good enough proportions, it cannot be denied 
any the less, not to speak of certain other parts, that the frieze made 
right round above the columns with ornaments in stucco and in painting 
is wholly wanting in design, and that many other things which are seen 
in that great church demonstrate the imperfection of the arts. 

Many years after, when the Christians were persecuted under Julian 
the Apostate, there was erected on the Ccelian Mount a church to 
S. John and S. Paul, the martyrs, in a manner so much worse than 
those named above, that it is seen clearly that the art was at that time 
little less than wholly lost. The buildings, too, that were erected at the 
same time in Tuscany, bear most ample testimony to this ; and not to 
speak of many others, the church that was built outside the walls of 
Arezzo to S. Donatus, Bishop of that city (who, together with the 
monk Hilarian, suffered martyrdom under the said Julian the Apostate), 
was in no way better in architecture than those named above. Nor can 


it be believed that this came from anything else but the absence of better 
architects in that age, seeing that the said church (as it has been possible 
to see in our own day), which is octagonal and constructed from the 
spoils of the Theatre, the Colosseum and other edifices that had been 
standing in Arezzo before it was converted to the faith of Christ, was 
built without thought of economy and at the greatest cost, and adorned 
with columns of granite, of porphyry, and of many-coloured marbles, 
which had belonged to the said buildings. And for myself I do not 
doubt, from the expense which was clearly bestowed on that church, 
that if the Aretines had had better architects they would have built 
something marvellous ; for it may be seen from what they did that they 
spared nothing if only they might make that work as rich and as well 
designed as they possibly could, and since, as has been already said so 
many times, architecture had lost less of its perfection than the other 
arts, there was to be seen therein some little of the good. At this time, 
likewise, was enlarged the Church of S. Maria in Grado, in honour of 
the said Hilarian, for the reason that he had been for a long time living 
in it when he went, with Donatus, to the crown of martyrdom. 

But because Fortune, when she has brought men to the height of 
her wheel, is wont, either in jest or in repentance, to throw them down 
again, it came about after these things that there rose up in various 
parts of the world all the barbarous peoples against Rome ; whence there 
ensued after no long time not only the humiliation of so great an Empire 
but the ruin of the whole, and above all of Rome herself, and with her 
were likewise utterly ruined the most excellent craftsmen, sculptors, 
painters, and architects, leaving the arts and their own selves buried 
and submerged among the miserable massacres and ruins of that most 
famous city. And the first to fall into decay were painting and sculpture, 
as being arts that served more for pleasure than for use, while the other 
namely, architecture as being necessary and useful for bodily weal, 
continued to exist, but no longer in its perfection and excellence. And 
if it had not been that the sculptures and pictures presented, to the eyes 
of those who were born from day to day, those who had been thereby 
honoured to the end that they might have eternal life, there would soon 


have been lost the memory of both ; whereas some of them survived in 
the images and in the inscriptions placed in private houses, as well as 
in public buildings, namely, in the amphitheatres, the theatres, the 
baths, the aqueducts, the temples, the obelisks, the colossi, the pyramids, 
the arches, the reservoirs, the public treasuries, and finally, in the very 
tombs, whereof a great part was destroyed by a barbarous and savage 
race who had nothing in them of man but the shape and the name. 
These, among others, were the Visigoths, who, having created Alaric their 
King, assailed Italy and Rome and sacked the city twice without respect 
for anything whatsoever. The same, too, did the Vandals, having come 
from Africa with Genseric, their King, who, not content with his booty 
and prey and all the cruelties that he wrought there, carried away her 
people into slavery, to their exceeding great misery, and among them 
Eudoxia, once the wife of the Emperor Valentinian, who had been 
slaughtered no long time before by his own soldiers. For these, having 
fallen away in very great measure from the ancient Roman valour, for 
the reason that all the best had gone a long time before to Byzantium 
with the Emperor Constantine, had no longer any good customs or 
ways of life. Nay more, there had been lost at one and the same time 
all true men and every sort of virtue, and laws, habits, names, and 
tongues had been changed ; and all these things together and each by 
itself had caused every lovely mind and lofty intellect to become most 
brutish and most base. 

But what brought infinite harm and damage on the said professions, 
even more than all the aforesaid causes, was the burning zeal of the new 
Christian religion, which, after a long and bloody combat, with its wealth 
of miracles and with the sincerity of its works, had finally cast down 
and swept away the old faith of the heathens, and, devoting itself most 
ardently with all diligence to driving out and extirpating root and branch 
every least occasion whence error could arise, not only defaced or threw 
to the ground all the marvellous statues, sculptures, pictures, mosaics, 
and ornaments of the false gods of the heathens, but even the memorials 
and the honours of numberless men of mark, to whom, for their excellent 
merits, the noble spirit of the ancients had set up statues and other 


memorials in public places. Nay more, it not only destroyed, in order 
to build the churches for the Christian use, the most honoured temples 
of the idols, but in order to ennoble and adorn S. Pietro (to say nothing 
of the ornaments which had been there from the beginning) it also 
robbed of its stone columns the Mausoleum of Hadrian, now called the 
Castello di S. Angelo, and many other buildings that to-day we see 
in ruins. And although the Christian religion did not do this by reason 
of hatred that it bore to the arts, but only in order to humiliate and cast 
down the gods of the heathens, it was none the less true that from this 
most ardent zeal there came so great ruin on these honoured professions 
that their very form was wholly lost. And as if aught were wanting to 
this grievous misfortune, there arose against Rome the wrath of Totila, 
who, besides razing her walls and destroying with fire and sword all her 
most wonderful and noble buildings, burnt the whole city from end to 
end, and, having robbed her of every living body, left her a prey to 
flames and fire, so that there was not found in her in eighteen suc- 
cessive days a single living soul ; and he cast down and destroyed so com- 
pletely the marvellous statues, pictures, mosaics, and works in stucco, 
that there was lost, I do not say only their majesty, but their very form 
and essence. Wherefore, it being the lower rooms chiefly of the palaces 
and other buildings that were wrought with stucco, with painting, and 
with statuary, there was buried by the ruins from above all that good 
work that has been discovered in our own day, and those who came 
after, judging the whole to be in ruins, planted vines thereon, in a manner 
that, since the said lower rooms remained under the ground, the moderns 
have called them grottoes, and " grotesque " the pictures that are therein 
seen at the present day. 

After the end of the Ostrogoths, who were destroyed by Narses, 
men were living among the ruins of Rome in some fashion, poorly indeed, 
when there came, after 100 years, Constantine II, Emperor of Con- 
stantinople, who, although received lovingly by the Romans, laid waste, 
robbed, and carried away all that had remained, more by chance than by 
the good will of those who had destroyed her, in the miserable city of Rome. 
It is true, indeed, that he was not able to enjoy this booty, because, 

* g 


being carried by a sea-tempest to Sicily and being justly slain by his 
own men, he left his spoils, his kingdom, and his life a prey to Fortune. 
But she, not yet content with the woes of Rome, to the end that the 
things stolen might never return, brought thither for the ruin of the 
island a host of Saracens, who carried off both the wealth of the Sicilians 
and the spoils of Rome to Alexandria, to the very great shame and loss 
of Italy and of Christendom. And so all that the Pontiffs had not 
destroyed (and above all S. Gregory, who is said to have decreed 
banishment against all the remainder of the statues and of the spoils of 
the buildings) came finally, at the hands of that most rascally Greek, 
to an evil end ; in a manner that, there being no trace or sign to be 
found of anything that was in any way good, the men who came 
after, although rude and boorish, and in particular in their pictures 
and sculptures, yet, incited by nature and refined by the air, set 
themselves to work, not according to the rules of the aforesaid arts, 
which they did not know, but according to the quality of their own 

The arts of design, then, having been brought to these limits both 
before and during the lordship of the Lombards over Italy and also 
afterwards, continued gradually to grow worse, although some little work 
was done, insomuch that nothing could have been more rudely wrought 
or with less design than what was done, as bear witness, besides many 
other works, certain figures that are in the portico of S. Pietro in Rome, 
above the doors, wrought in the Greek manner in memory of certain holy 
fathers who had made disputation for Holy Church in certain councils. 
To this, likewise, bear witness many works in the same manner that are 
to be seen in the city and in the whole Exarchate of Ravenna, and in 
particular some that are in S. Maria Rotonda without that city, made 
a little time after the Lombards had been driven out of Italy. In 
this church, as I will not forbear to say, there may be seen a thing most 
notable and marvellous, namely, the vault, or rather cupola, that covers 
it, which, although it is ten braccia wide and serves for roof and covering 
to that building, is nevertheless of one single piece, so great and pon- 
derous that it seems almost impossible that such a stone, weighing more 


than 200,000 libbre,* could have been set into place so high. But to 
return to our subject ; there issued from the hands of the masters of 
these times those puppet-like and uncouth figures that are still to be 
seen in the works of old. The same thing happened to architecture, 
seeing that, since it was necessary to build, and since form and the good 
method were completely lost by reason of the death of the craftsmen and 
the destruction and ruin of their works, those who applied themselves to 
this exercise built nothing that either in ordering or in proportion showed 
any grace, or design, or reason whatsoever. Wherefore there came to 
arise new architects, who brought from their barbarous races the method 
of that manner of buildings that are called by us to-day German ; and 
they made some that are rather a source of laughter for us moderns 
than creditable to them, until better craftsmen afterwards found a better 
style, in some measure similar to the good style of the ancients, even 
as that manner may be seen throughout all Italy in the old churches 
(but not the ancient), which were built by them, such as a palace of 
Theodoric, King of Italy, in Ravenna, and one in Pavia, and another in 
Modena ; all in a barbarous manner, and rather rich and vast than 
well-conceived or of good architecture. The same may be affirmed of 
S. Stefano in Rimini, of S. Martino in Ravenna, and of the Church of 
S. Giovanni Evangelista, erected in the same city by Galla Placidia about 
the year of our salvation 438 ; of S. Vitale, which was erected in the 
year 547, of the Abbey of Classi di Fuori, and in short of many other 
monasteries and churches erected after the Lombard rule. All these 
buildings, as has been said, are both large and magnificent, but of the 
rudest architecture, and among them are many abbeys in France erected 
to S. Benedict, the Church and Monastery of Monte Casino, and the 
Church of S. Giovanni Battista at Monza, built by that Theodelinda, 
Queen of the Goths, to whom S. Gregory the Pope wrote his Dialogues ; 
in which place that Queen caused to be painted the story of the Lom- 
bards, wherein it was seen that they shaved the back of their heads, and 
in front they had long locks, and they dyed themselves as far as the chin. 
Their garments were of ample linen, as was the use of the Angles and 
* The libbra is twelve ounces of our ordinary pound (avoirdupois). 


Saxons, and below a mantle of diverse colours ; their shoes open as far as 
the toes and tied above with certain straps of leather. Similar to the 
aforesaid churches were the Church of S. Giovanni in Pavia, erected by 
Gondiberta, daughter of the aforesaid Theodelinda, and in the same city 
the Church of S. Salvadore, built by the brother of the said Queen, 
Aribert, who succeeded to the throne of Rodoald, husband of Gondi- 
berta; and the Church of S. Ambrogio in Pavia, erected by Grimoald, 
King of the Lombards, who drove Bertrid, son of Aribert, from his throne. 
This Bertrid, being restored to his throne after the death of Grimoald, 
erected, also in Pavia, a monastery for nuns called the Monasterio Nuovo, 
in honour of Our Lady and of S. Agatha ; and the Queen erected one 
without the walls, dedicated to the " Virgin Mary in Pertica." Cunibert, 
likewise', son of that Bertrid, erected a monastery and church after 
the same manner to S. Giorgio, called di Coronate, on the spot where 
he had gained a great victory over Alahi. Not unlike to these, too, 
was the church that the King of the Lombards, Luitprand (who lived in 
the time of King Pepin, father of Charlemagne), built in Pavia, which 
is called S. Pietro in Cieldauro ; nor that one, likewise, that Desiderius 
built, who reigned after Astolf namely, S. Pietro Clivate, in the diocese 
of Milan; nor the Monastery of S. Vincenzo in Milan, nor that of S. 
Giulia in Brescia, seeing that they were all built at the greatest cost, but 
in the most ugly and haphazard manner. 

Later, in Florence, architecture made some little progress, and the 
Church of S. Apostolo, that was erected by Charlemagne, although 
small, was most beautiful in manner ; for not to mention that the shafts 
of the columns, although they are of separate pieces, show much grace 
and are made with beautiful proportion, the capitals, also, and the arches 
turned to make the little vaulted roofs of the two small aisles, show that 
in Tuscany there had survived or in truth arisen some good craftsman. 
In short, the architecture of this church is such that Filippo di Ser Bruriel- 
lesco did not disdain to avail himself of it as a model in building the 
Church of S. Spirito and that of S. Lorenzo in the same city. The 
same may be seen in the Church of S. Marco in Venice, which (to say 
nothing of S. Giorgio Maggiore, erected by Giovanni Morosini in the 


year 978) was begun under the Doge Giustiniano and Giovanni Particiaco, 
close by S. Teodosio, when the body of that Evangelist was sent from 
Alexandria to Venice ; and after many fires, which greatly damaged 
the Doge's palace and the church, it was finally rebuilt on the same 
foundations in the Greek manner and in that style wherein it is 
seen to-day, at very great cost and under the direction of many archi- 
tects, in the year of Christ 973, at the time of Doge Domenico Selvo, 
who had the columns brought from wheresoever he could find them. 
And so it continued to go on up to the year 1140, when the Doge was 
Messer Piero Polani, and, as has been said, with the design of many 
masters, all Greeks. In the same Greek manner and about the same 
time were the seven abbeys that Count Ugo, Marquis of Brandenburg, 
caused to be built in Tuscany, as can be seen in the Badia of 
Florence, in that of Settimo, and in the others ; which buildings, 
with the remains of those that are no longer standing, bear testimony 
that architecture was still in a measure holding its ground, although 
greatly corrupted and far removed from the good manner of the 
ancients. To this can also bear witness many old palaces built in 
Florence after the ruin of Fiesole, in Tuscan workmanship, but with 
barbaric ordering in the proportions of those doors and windows of 
immense length, in the curves of the pointed quarter-segments, and 
in the turning of the arches, after the wont of the foreign architects of 
those times. 

The year afterwards, 1013, it is clear that the art had regained 
some of its vigour from the rebuilding of that most beautiful church, 
S. Miniato in Sul Monte, in the time of Messer Alibrando, citizen 
and Bishop of Florence ; for the reason that, besides the marble 
ornaments that are seen therein both within and without, it may be 
seen from the facade that the Tuscan architects strove as much as 
they could in the doors, the windows, the columns, the arches, and 
the mouldings, to imitate the good order of the ancients, having in 
part recovered it from the most ancient temple of S. Giovanni in 
their city. At the same time painting, which was little less than 
wholly spent, may be seen to have begun to win back something, as the 


mosaic shows that was made in the principal chapel * of the said Church 
of S. Miniato. 

From such beginnings, then, these arts commenced to grow better 
in design throughout Tuscany, as is seen in the year 1016, from the 
commencement made by the people of Pisa for the building of their 
Duomo, seeing that in those times it was a great thing for men to 
put their hands to the construction of a church made, as this was, 
with five naves, and almost wholly of marble both within and without. 
This church, which was built under the direction and design of Buschetto, 
a Greek of Dulichium, an architect of rarest worth for those times, was 
erected and adorned by the people of Pisa with innumerable spoils brought 
by sea (for they were at the height of their greatness) from diverse most 
distant places, as is well shown by the columns, bases, capitals, cornices, 
and all the other kinds of stonework that are therein seen. And seeing that 
these things were some of them small, some large, and some of a middle 
size, great was the judgment and the talent of Buschetto in accommo- 
dating them and in making the distribution of all this building, which 
is very well arranged both within and without ; and besides other work, 
he contrived the frontal slope of the fagade very ingeniously with a great 
number of columns, adorning it besides with columns carved in diverse 
and varied ways, and with ancient statues, even as he also made the 
principal doors in the same fagade, between which that is, beside that 
of the Carroccio there was afterwards given an honourable burial-place 
to Buschetto himself, with three epitaphs, whereof this is one, in Latin 
verses in no way dissimilar to others of those times : 


* It is difficult to find a rendering of " cappella maggiore " that is absolutely satis- 
factory. There may be a chapel in some churches that is actually larger than the " prin- 
cipal chapel." The principal chapel generally contains the choir, but not always, and 
when Vasari wants to say " choir " he uses the word " coro." The rendering " principal 
chapel " has therefore been adopted as the least misleading. 


And seeing that there has been made mention above of the Church of 
S. Apostolo in Florence, I will not forbear to say that on a marble slab 
therein, on one side of the high-altar, there may be seen these words : 



The aforesaid edifice of the Duomo in Pisa, awaking the minds of 
many to fair enterprises throughout all Italy, and above all in Tuscany, 
was the cause that in the city of Pistoia, in the year 1032, a beginning 
was made for the Church of S. Paolo, in the presence of the Blessed 
Atto, Bishop of that city, as may be read in a contract made at that 
time, and, in short, for many other buildings whereof it would take too 
long to make mention at present. I cannot forbear to say, however, 
following the course of time, that afterwards, in the year 1060, there was 
erected in Pisa the round church of S. Giovanni, opposite the Duomo 
and in the same square. And something marvellous and almost wholly 
incredible is to be found recorded in an old book of the Works of the said 
Duomo, namely, that the columns of the said S. Giovanni, the pillars, 
and the vaulting were raised and completed in fifteen days and no more. 
In the same book, which anyone can see who has the wish, it may be 
read that for the building of this church there was imposed a tax of one 
danaio for each fire, but it is not said therein whether of gold or of 
small coin ; and at that time there were in Pisa, as may be seen in the 
same book, 34,000 fires. Truly this work was vast, of great cost, and 
difficult to execute, and above all the vaulting of the tribune, made in 
the shape of a pear and covered without with lead. The outer side is 
full of columns, carvings, and groups, and on the frieze of the central 
door is a Jesus Christ with the twelve Apostles in half-relief, after the 
Greek manner. 

The people of Lucca, about the same time that is, in the year 1061 


as rivals of the people of Pisa, began the Church of S. Martino in 
Lucca from the design of certain disciples of Buschetto, there being then 
no other architects in Tuscany. Attached to the fa9ade of this church 
there may be seen a marble portico with many ornaments and 
carvings made in memory of Pope Alexander II, who had been, a short 
time before he was elected to the Pontificate, Bishop of that city. Of 
this construction and of Alexander himself everything is fully told in 
nine Latin verses, and the same may be seen in certain other ancient 
letters engraved on the marble under the portico, between the doors. 
On the said fa$ade are certain figures, and under the portico many scenes 
in marble from the life of S. Martin, in half-relief, and in the Greek 
manner. But the best, which are over one of the doors, were made 170 
years after by Niccola Pisano and finished in 1233, as will be told in the 
proper place ; the Wardens, when these were begun, being Abellenato and 
Aliprando, as it may be clearly seen from certain letters carved in marble 
in the same place. These figures by the hand of Niccola Pisano show 
how much improvement there came from him to the art of sculpture. 
Similar to these were most, nay, all of the buildings that were erected in 
Italy from the times aforesaid up to the year 1250, seeing that little or 
no acquisition or improvement can be seen to have been made in the 
space of so many years by architecture, which stayed within the same 
limits and went on ever in that rude manner, whereof many examples 
are still to be seen, of which I will at present make no mention, for the 
reason that they will be spoken of below according to the occasions that 
may come before me. 

In like manner the good sculptures and pictures which had been 
buried under the ruins of Italy remained up to the same time hidden from 
or not known to the men boorishly reared in the rudeness of the modern 
use of that age, wherein no other sculptures or pictures existed than 
those which a remnant of old Greeks were making either in images of 
clay or stone, or painting monstrous figures and covering only the bare 
lineaments with colour. These craftsmen, as the best, being the only 
ones in these professions, were summoned to Italy, whither they brought 
sculpture and painting, together with mosaic, in that style wherein they 


knew them ; and even so they taught them rudely and roughly to the 
Italians, who afterwards made use of them, as has been told and will 
be told further, up to a certain time. And the men of those times, 
not being used to see other excellence or greater perfection in any 
work than that which they themselves saw, marvelled and took these 
for the best, for all that they were vile, until the spirits of the 
generation then arising, helped in some places by the subtlety of the 
air, became so greatly purged that about 1250, Heaven, moved to 
pity for the lovely minds that the Tuscan soil was producing every day, 
restored them to their first condition. And although those before them 
had seen remains of arches, of colossi, of statues, of urns, and of storied 
columns in the ages that came after the sackings, the destructions, and 
the burnings of Rome, and never knew how to make use of them or draw 
from them any benefit, up to the time mentioned above, the minds that 
came after, discerning well enough the good from the bad and abandon- 
ing the old manners, turned to imitating the ancient with all their industry 
and wit. 

But in order that it may be understood more clearly what I call 
" old " and what " ancient," the " ancient " were the works made before 
Constantine in Corinth, in Athens, in Rome, and in other very famous 
cities, until the time of Nero, the Vespasians, Trajan, Hadrian, and 
Antoninus ; whereas those others are called " old " that were executed 
from S. Silvester's day up to that time by a certain remnant of 
Greeks, who knew rather how to dye than how to paint. For since the 
excellent early craftsmen had been killed in these wars, as has been 
said, to the remainder of these Greeks, old but not ancient, there had 
been left nothing but elementary outlines on a ground of colour ; and 
to this at the present day witness is borne by an infinity of mosaics, which, 
wrought throughout all Italy by these Greeks, are to be seen in every 
old church in any city whatsoever of Italy, and above all in the Duomo of 
Pisa, in S. Marco at Venice, and in other places as well ; and so, too, 
they kept making many pictures in that manner, with eyes staring, 
hands outstretched, and standing on tiptoe, as may still be seen in S. 
Miniato without Florence, between the door that leads into the sacristy 

i. h 


and that which leads into the convent ; and in S. Spirito in the said 
city, the whole side of the cloister opposite the church ; and in like 
manner at Arezzo, in S. Giuliano and S. Bartolommeo and in other 
churches ; and in Rome, in the old Church of S. Pietro, scenes right round 
between the windows works that have more of the monstrous in their 
lineaments than of likeness to whatsoever they represent. Of sculptures, 
likewise, they made an infinity, as may still be seen in low-relief 
over the door of S. Michele in the Piazza Padella of Florence, and 
in Ognissanti; and tombs and adornments in many places for the 
doors of churches, wherein they have certain figures for corbels to 
support the roof, so rude and vile, so misshapen, and of such a 
grossness of manner, that it appears impossible that worse could be 

Thus far have I thought fit to discourse from the beginning of sculp- 
ture and of painting, and peradventure at greater length than was neces- 
sary in this place, which I have done, indeed, not so much carried away 
by my affection for art as urged by the common benefit and advantage 
of our craftsmen. For having seen in what way she, from a small 
beginning, climbed to the greatest height, and how from a state so noble 
she fell into utter ruin, and that, in consequence, the nature of this art 
is similar to that of the others, which, like human bodies, have their 
birth, their growth, their growing old, and their death ; they will now be 
able to recognize more easily the progress of her second birth and of 
that very perfection whereto she has risen again in our times. And I 
hope, moreover, that if ever (which God forbid) it should happen at 
any time, through the negligence of men, or through the malice of time, 
or, finally, through the decree of Heaven, which appears to be unwilling 
that the things of this earth should exist for long in one form, that she 
falls again into the same chaos of ruin; that these my labours, whatso- 
ever they may be worth (if indeed they may be worthy of a happier 
fortune), both through what has been already said and through what 
remains to say, may be able to keep her alive or at least to encourage 
the most exalted minds to provide them with better assistance ; so much 
so that, what with my good will and the works of these masters, she may 


abound in those aids and adornments wherein, if I may freely speak the 
truth, she has been wanting up to the present day. 

But it is now time to come to the Life of Giovanni Cimabue, and 
even as he gave the first beginning to the new method of drawing and 
painting, so it is just and expedient that he should give it to the Lives, 
in which I will do my utmost to observe, the most that I can, the order 
of their manners rather than that of time. And in describing the forms 
and features of the craftsmen I will be brief, seeing that their portraits, 
which have been collected by me with no less cost and fatigue than 
diligence, will show better what sort of men the craftsmen themselves 
were in appearance than describing them could ever do ; and if the 
portrait of any one of them should be wanting, that is not through my 
fault but by reason of its being nowhere found. And if the said por- 
traits were not peradventure to appear to someone to be absolutely 
like to others that might be found, I wish it to be remembered that 
the portrait made of a man when he was eighteen or twenty years 
old will never be like to the portrait that may have been made fifteen or 
twenty years later. To this it must be added that portraits in drawing 
are never so like as are those in colours, not to mention that the en- 
gravers, who have no draughtsmanship, always rob the faces (being 
unable or not knowing how to make exactly those minutenesses that 
make them good and true to life) of that perfection which is rarely or 
never found in portraits cut in wood. In short, how great have been 
therein my labour, expense, and diligence, will be evident to those who, in 
reading, will see whence I have to the best of my ability unearthed them. 





(After the painting by Cimabue. Paris : Louvre, I26j) 




the infinite flood of evils which had laid prostrate and submerged 
Italy there had not only been ruined everything that could truly 
laim the name of building, but there had been blotted out (and this 
was of graver import) the whole body of the craftsmen, when, by the 
will of God, in the city of Florence, in the year 1240, there was born, to 
give the first light to the art of painting, Giovanni, surnamed Cimabue, 
of the family, noble in those times, of Cimabue. He, while growing up, 
being judged by his father and by others to have a beautiful and acute 
intelligence, was sent, to the end that he might exercise himself in letters, 
to a master in S. Maria Novella, his relative, who was then teaching 
grammar to the novices of that convent ; but Cimabue, in place of attend- 
ing to his letters, would spend the whole day, as one who felt himself 
led thereto by nature, in drawing, on books and other papers, men, 
horses, houses, and diverse other things of fancy ; to which natural in- 
clination fortune was favourable, for certain Greek painters had been 
summoned to Florence by those who then governed the city, for nothing 
else but to restore to Florence the art of painting, which was rather 
out of mind than out of fashion, and they began, among the other works 
undertaken in the city, the Chapel of the Gondi, whereof to-day the 
vaulting and the walls are little less than eaten away by time, as may 
be seen in S. Maria Novella beside the principal chapel, where it stands. 
Wherefore Cimabue, having begun to take his first steps in this art 
which pleased him, playing truant often from school, would stand 
the livelong day watching these masters at work, in a manner that, 
being judged by his father and by these painters to be in such 




wise fitted for painting that there could be hoped for him, applying 
himself to this profession, an honourable success, to his own no small 
satisfaction he was apprenticed by the said father to these men ; where- 
upon, exercising himself without ceasing, in a short time nature assisted 
him so greatly that he surpassed by a long way, both in drawing and in 
colouring, the manner of the masters who were teaching him. For they, 
giving no thought to making any advance, had made those works in 
that fashion wherein they are seen to-day that is, not in the good 
ancient manner of the Greeks but in that rude modern manner of those 
times ; and because, although he imitated these Greeks, he added much 
perfection to the art, relieving it of a great part of their rude manner, 
he gave honour to his country with his name and with the works that 
he made, to which witness is borne in Florence by the pictures that he 
wrought, such as the front of the altar in S. Cecilia, and in S. Croce a panel 
with a Madonna, which was and still is placed against a pilaster on the 
right within the choir. After this, he made a S. Francis on a small 
panel on a gold ground, and portrayed him from nature (which was 
something new in those times,} as best he knew, and round him all the 
stories of his life, in twenty small pictures full of little figures on a gold 

Having next undertaken to make a large panel for the monks of 
Vallombrosa, in the Abbey of S. Trinita in Florence, he showed in that 
work (using therein great diligence, so as to rise equal to the esteem 
which had already been conceived of him) better inventions and a beauti- 
ful method in the attitude of a Madonna, whom he made with the Child 
in her arms and with many angels round her in adoration, on a gold 
ground ; which panel, being finished, was placed by these monks over the 
high-altar of the said church, and being afterwards removed, in order to 
give that place to the panel by Alesso Baldovinetti which is there to-day, 
it was placed in a smaller chapel in the left-hand aisle of the said 

Working next in fresco on the Hospital of the Porcellana, at the 
corner of the Via Nuova which goes into the Borg' Ognissanti, on the 
facade which has in the middle the principal door, and making on one 


side the Annunciation of the Virgin by the Angel, and on the other Jesus 
Christ with Cleophas and Luke, figures as large as life, he swept away 
that ancient manner, making the draperies, the vestments, and every- 
thing else in this work, a little more lively and more natural and softer 
than the manner of these Greeks, all full of lines and profiles both in 
mosaic and in painting ; which manner, rough, rude, and vulgar, the 
painters of those times, not by means of study, but by a certain conven- 
tion, had taught one to the other for many and many a year, without 
ever thinking of bettering their draughtsmanship, of beauty of colouring, 
or of any invention that might be good. 

Cimabue, being summoned again after this work by the same Prior 
who had caused him to make the works in S. Croce, made him a 
large Crucifix on wood, which is still seen to-day in the church ; which 
work was the reason, it appearing to the Prior that he had been well 
served, that he took him to S. Francesco in Pisa, their convent, in 
order to make a S. Francis on a panel, which was held by these people 
to be a most rare work, there being seen therein a certain greater quality 
of excellence, both in the air of the heads and in the folds of the draperies, 
than had been shown in the Greek manner up to that time by anyone 
who had wrought anything, not only in Pisa, but in all Italy. Cimabue 
having next made for the same church on a large panel the image of Our 
Lady, with the Child in her arms and with many angels round her, also 
on a ground of gold, it was after no long time removed from where it 
had been set up the first time, in order to make there the marble altar 
that is there at present, and was placed within the church beside the 
door on the left hand ; and for this work he was much praised and 
rewarded by the people of Pisa. In the same city of Pisa, at the request 
of the then Abbot of S. Paolo in Ripa d'Arno, he made a S. Agnes on a 
little panel, and round her, with little figures, all the stories of her life ; 
which little panel is to-day over the altar of the Virgins in the said 

By reason of these works, then, the name of Cimabue being very 
famous everywhere, he was brought to Assisi, a city of Umbria, where, 
in company with certain Greek masters, in the lower Church of 


S. Francesco, he painted part of the vaulting, and on the walls the life 
of Jesus Christ and that of S. Francis. In these pictures he surpassed by 
a long way those Greek painters ; wherefore, growing in courage, he began 
by his own self to paint the upper church in fresco, and in the chief apse, 
over the choir, on four sides, he made certain stories of Our Lady namely, 
her death ; when her soul is borne by Christ to Heaven upon a throne of 
clouds ; and when, in the midst of a choir of angels, He crowns her, 
with a great number of saints below, both male and female, now eaten 
away by time and by dust. Next, in the sections of the vaulting of the 
said church, which are five, he painted in like manner many scenes. In 
the first, over the choir, he made the four Evangelists, larger than life, 
and so well that to-day there is still recognized in them much that is 
good, and the freshness of the colours in the flesh shows that painting 
began to make great progress in fresco work through the labours of 
Cimabue. The second section he made full of golden stars on a ground of 
ultramarine. In the third he made in certain medallions Jesus Christ, 
the Virgin His mother, S. John the Baptist, and S. Francis namely, 
in every medallion one of these figures, and in every quarter segment of 
the vaulting a medallion. And between this and the fifth section he 
painted the fourth with golden stars, as above, on a ground of ultramarine. 
In the fifth he painted the four Doctors of the Church, and beside each 
one of these one of the four chief Religious Orders a work truly laborious 
and executed with infinite diligence. The vaulting finished, he wrought, 
also in fresco, the upper walls of the whole left-hand side of the church, 
making towards the high-altar, between the windows and right up to 
the vaulting, eight scenes from the Old Testament, commencing from 
the beginning of Genesis and following the most notable events. And 
in the space that is round the windows, up to the point where they end 
in the gallery that encircles the interior of the wall of the church, he 
painted the remainder of the Old Testament in eight other scenes. And 
opposite this work, in sixteen other scenes corresponding to these, he 
painted the acts of Our Lady and of Jesus Christ. And on the end wall 
over the principal door, and round the rose window of the church, he 
made her Ascension into Heaven and the Holy Spirit descending on 


the Apostles. This work, truly very great and rich and most ex- 
cellently executed, must have, in my judgment, amazed the world in 
those times, seeing, above all, that painting had lain so long in such 
great darkness ; and to me, who saw it again in the year 1563, it appeared 
very beautiful, thinking how in so great darkness Cimabue could see so 
great light. But of all these pictures (and to this we should give con- 
sideration), those on the roof, as being less injured by dust and by other 
accidents, have been preserved much better than the others. These 
works finished, Giovanni put his hand to painting the lower walls 
namely, those that are from the windows downwards and made certain 
works upon them, but being called to Florence on some business of his 
own, he did not carry this work further ; but it was finished, as will be told 
in the proper place, by Giotto, many years afterwards. 

Having returned, then, to Florence, Cimabue painted in the cloister 
of S. Spirito (wherein there is painted in the Greek manner, by other 
masters, the whole side facing the church) three small arches by his own 
hand, from the life of Christ, and truly with much design. And at the 
same time he sent certain works wrought by himself in Florence to 
Empoli, which works are still held to-day in great veneration in the 
Pieve of that township. Next, he made for the Church of S. Maria 
Novella the panel of Our Lady that is set on high between the Chapel 
of the Rucellai and that of the Bardi da Vernia ; which work was 
of greater size than any figure that had been made up to that time. 
And certain angels that are round it show that, although he still had the 
Greek manner, he was going on approaching in part to the line and 
method of the modern. Wherefore this work caused so great marvel to \ 
the people of that age, by reason of there not having been seen up to then ) 
anything better, that it was borne in most solemn procession from the > 
house of Cimabue to the church, with much rejoicing and with trumpets, ' 
and he was thereby much rewarded and honoured. It is said, and it 
may be read in certain records of old painters, that while Cimabue was 
painting the said panel in certain gardens close to the Porta S. Pietro, 
there passed through Florence King Charles the Elder of Anjou, and 
that, among the many signs of welcome made to him by the men of 


this city, they brought him to see Cimabue's panel ; whereupon, for the 
reason that it had not yet been seen by anyone, in the showing it to the 
King there flocked together to it all the men and all the women of Florence, 
with the utmost rejoicing and in the greatest crowd in the world. Where- 
fore, by reason of the joy that the neighbours had thereby, they called 
that place the Borgo Allegri ; which place, although enclosed in time 
within the walls, has ever after retained the same name. 

In S. Francesco in Pisa, where he wrought, as has been said above, 
certain other works, there is in the cloister, beside the door that leads into 
the church, in a corner, a small panel in distemper by the hand of 
Cimabue, wherein is a Christ on the Cross, with certain angels round 
Him, who, weeping, are taking with their hands certain words that are 
written round the head of Christ and are presenting them to the ears of 
a Madonna who stands weeping on the right, and on the other side to 
S. John the Evangelist, who is on the left, all grieving. And the words 
to the Virgin are : MULIER, ECCE FILIUS TUUS ; and those to S. John : 
ECCE MATER TUA ; and those that an angel standing apart holds in 
Wherein it is to be observed that Cimabue began to give light and 
to open the way to invention, assisting art with words in order to 
express his conception ; which was certainly something whimsical and 

Now because, by means of these works, Cimabue had acquired 
a very great name, together with much profit, he was appointed as 
architect, in company with Arnolfo Lapi, a man then excellent in archi- 
tecture, for the building of S. Maria del Fiore in Florence. But at 
length, having lived sixty years, he passed to the other life in the year 
1300, having little less than resurrected painting. He left many dis- 
ciples, and among others.Giotto, who was afterwards an excellent painter ; 
which Giotto dwelt, after Cimabue, in his master's own house in the Via 
del Cocomero. Cimabue was buried in S. Maria del Fiore, with that 
epitaph made for him by one of the Nini : 



I will not refrain from saying that if to the glory of Cimabue there 
had not been contrasted the greatness of Giotto, his disciple, his fame 
would have been greater, as Dante demonstrates in his Commedia, 
wherein, alluding in the eleventh canto of the Purgatorio to this very 
inscription on the tomb, he said : 

Credette Cimabue nella pittura 

Tener lo campo, ed hora ha Giotto il grido, 

Si che la fama di colui s' oscura. 

In explanation of these verses, a commentator of Dante, who 
wrote at the time when Giotto was alive and ten or twelve years after 
the death of Dante himself that is, about the year of Christ 1334 
says, speaking of Cimabue, precisely these words : " Cimabue was a 
painter of Florence in the time of the author, very noble beyond the 
knowledge of man, and withal so arrogant and so disdainful that if there 
were found by anyone any failing or defect in his work, or if he himself 
had seen one (even as it comes to pass many times that the craftsman 
errs, through a defect in the material whereon he works, or through some 
lack in the instrument wherewith he labours), incontinently he would 
destroy that work, however costly it might be. Giotto was and is the 
most exalted among the painters of the same city of Florence, and his 
works bear testimony for him in Rome, in Naples, in Avignon, in Florence, 
in Padua, and in many parts of the world." This commentary is now 
in the hands of the Very Reverend Don Vincenzio Borghini, Prior of the 
Innocenti, a man not only most famous for his nobility, goodness, and 
learning, but also endowed with such love and understanding for all the 
finer arts that he has deserved to be elected by the Lord Duke Cosimo, 
most properly, as his Lieutenant in our Academy of Design. 

But to return to Cimabue : Giotto, truly, obscured his fame not 
otherwise than as a great light does the splendour of one much less, 
for the reason that although Cimabue was, as it were, the first cause 
of the renovation of the art of painting, yet Giotto, his pupil, moved 
by laudable ambition and assisted by Heaven and by nature, was he 
who, rising higher with his thought, opened the gate of truth to those 
who have brought her to that perfection and majesty wherein we see 


her in her own century, which, being used to see every day the marvels, 
the miracles, nay, the impossibilities wrought by the craftsmen in that art, 
is now brought to such a pitch that nothing that men do, be it even more 
Divine than human, causes it in any way to marvel. Well is it with those 
whose labours deserve all praise, if, in place of being praised and admired, 
they do not thereby incur blame and many times even disgrace. 

The portrait of Cimabue, by the hand of Simone Sanese, is to be 
seen in the Chapter-house of S. Maria Novella, made in profile in the 
story of the Faith, in a figure that has the face thin, the beard small, 
reddish, and pointed, with a cap according to the use of those times 
that is, wound round and round and under the throat in lovely fashion. 
He who is beside him is Simone himself, the author of that work, who 
portrayed himself with two mirrors in order to make his head in profile, 
placing the one opposite to the other. And that soldier clad in armour 
who is between them is said to be Count Guido Novello, then Lord of 
Poppi. There remains for me to say of Cimabue that in the beginning 
of our book, where I have put together drawings from the own hand of 
all those who have made drawings from his time to ours, there are to be 
seen certain small things made by his hand in the way of miniature, 
wherein, although to-day perchance they appear rather rude than other- 
wise, it is seen how much excellence was given by his work to draughts- 

(Florence: Accademia 102 'Panel) 




in S. Maria Maggiore in Rome, the tomb of Pope Honorius III, 
of the house of Savelli ; which tomb he left imperfect, with the 
portrait of the said Pope, which was afterwards placed with his 
design in the principal chapel of mosaic of S. Paolo in Rome, 
with the portrait of Giovanni Gaetano, Abbot of that monastery. 
And the marble chapel, wherein is the Manger of Jesus Christ, was 
one of the last pieces of sculpture in marble that Arnolfo ever made ; 
and he made it at the instance of Pandolfo Ippotecorvo, in the 
year twelve (?), as an epitaph bears witness that is on the wall 
beside the chapel ; and likewise the chapel and tomb of Pope 
Boniface VIII, in S. Pietro in Rome, whereon is carved the same 
name of Arnolfo, who wrought it.] - 

HAVING discoursed, in the Preface to the Lives, of certain buildings 
in a manner old but not ancient, and having been silent, for the reason 
that I did not know them, about the names of the architects who had 
charge of their construction, I will make mention, in the Preface to this 
Life of Arnolfo, of certain other edifices built in his time or a little before, 
whereof in like manner it is not known who were the masters ; and then 
of those that were built in the same times, whereof it is known who were 
the architects, either because the manner of the edifices themselves 
is recognized very well, or because we have had information about 
them by means of the writings and memorials left by them in the works 
that they made. Nor will this be outside our subject, seeing that, 
although they are neither in a beautiful nor in a good manner but 
only vast and magnificent, they are worthy none the less of some 



There were built, then, in the time of Lapo and of Arnolfo his son, 
many edifices of importance both in Italy and abroad, whereof I have 
not been able to find the architects, such as the Abbey of Monreale in 
Sicily, the Piscopio of Naples, the Certosa of Pavia, the Duomo of 
Milan, S. Pietro and S. Petronio in Bologna, and many others which are 
seen throughout all Italy, built at incredible cost. (Having seen all 
these buildings for myself and studied them, and likewise many sculp- 
tures of those times, particularly in Ravenna, and not having ever found, 
I do not say any memorials of the masters, but even many times the 
date when they were built, I cannot but marvel at the rudeness and 
little desire for glory of the men of that age.; But returning to our 
subject ; after the buildings named above, there began at last to arise 
men of a more exalted spirit, who, if they did not find, sought at 
least to find something of the good. The first was Buono, of whom I 
know neither the country nor the surname, for the reason that in making 
record of himself in some of his works he put nothing but simply his 
name. He, being both sculptor and architect, first made many palaces 
and churches and some sculptures in Ravenna, in the year of our sal- 
vation 1152 ; and having become known by reason of these works, he 
was called to Naples, where he founded (although they were finished by 
others, as will be told) the Castel Capoano and the Castel dell' Uovo; 
and afterwards, in the time of Domenico Morosini, Doge of Venice, he 
founded the Campanile of S. Marco with much consideration and judg- 
ment, having caused the foundation of that tower to be so well fixed 
with piles that it has never moved a hair's-breadth, as many buildings 
constructed in that city before his day have been seen and still are seen 
to have done. And from him, perchance, the Venetians learnt to found, 
in the manner in which they do it to-day, the very beautiful and very 
rich edifices that every day are being built so magnificently in that most 
noble city. It is true, indeed, that this tower has nothing else good in 
it, neither manner, nor ornament, nor, in short, anything that might 
be worthy of much praise. It was finished under Anastasius IV and 
Adrian IV, Pontiffs, in the year 1154. In architecture, likewise, Buono 
made the Church of S. Andrea in Pistoia, and in sculpture he made 


an architrave of marble that is over the door, full of figures made in the 
manner of the Goths, on which architrave his name is carved, with the 
date when this work was made by him, which was the year 1166. Next, 
being summoned to Florence, he gave the design for enlarging, as was 
done, the Church of S. Maria Maggiore, which was then without the 
city, and held in great veneration for the reason that Pope Pelagius had 
consecrated it many years before, and because, as to size and manner, it 
was a very fair body of a church. 

Being then summoned by the Aretines to their city, Buono built the 
old habitation of the Lords of Arezzo. namely, a palace in the manner of 
the Goths, and beside it a bell-tower. This edifice, which for that manner 
was good enough, was thrown to the ground, because it was opposite 
and very near to the fortress of that city, in the year 1533. Afterwards, 
the art making some little improvement through the works of one 
Guglielmo, German (I believe) in origin, there were built certain edifices 
of the greatest cost and in a slightly better manner ; for this Guglielmo, 
so it is said, in the year 1174, together with Bonannp^ a sculptor, founded 
in Pisa, th^ fiaimffi"'!? 9l.jJ?.g..DW MT V*- where there are certain words 
MENSE AUG. But these two architects not having much practice of 
founding in Pisa and therefore not supporting the platform with piles, 
as they ought, before they had gone halfway with that building it 
inclined to one side and bent over to the weakest part, in a manner 
that the said campanile leans six and a half braccia* out of the straight, 
according as the foundation sank on this side ; and although in the lower 
part this is not much, up above it shows clear enough to make men 
stand fast in a marvel how it can be that it has not fallen down and 
has not thrown out cracks. The reason is that this edifice is round 
both without and within and built in the shape of a hollow well, and 
bound together with the stones in a manner that it is well-nigh im- 
possible that it should fall ; and it is assisted, above all, by the foundations, 
which have an outwork three braccia wide outside the tower, made, as 

* The braccio is a very variable standard of measurement. As used by Vasari, it 
may be taken to denote about 23 inches. 


it is seen, after the sinking of the campanile, in order to support it. I 
am convinced that if it had been square it would not have been standing 
to-day, for the reason that the corner-stones of the square sides, as is 
often seen to happen, would have forced them out in a manner that it 
would have fallen down. And if the Garisenda, a tower in Bologna, 
although square, leans and does not fall, that comes to pass because it 
is slender and does not lean so much, not being burdened by so great 
a weight, by a great measure, as is this campanile, which is praised, not 
because it has in it any design or beautiful manner, but simply for its 
extravagance, it appearing impossible to anyone who sees it that it can 
in any wise keep standing. And the same Bonanno, while the said 
campanile was building, made, in the year 1182, the royal door of bronze 
for the said Duomo of Pisa, wherein are seen these letters : 


Next, from the walls that were made from ancient spoils at S. Gio- 
vanni Laterano in Rome, under Lucius III and Urban III, Pontiffs, 
when the Emperor Frederick was crowned by this Urban, it is seen that 
the art was going on continually improving, because certain little temples 
and chapels, built, as has been said, of spoils, have passing good design 
and certain things in them worthy of consideration, and among others 
this, that in order not to overburden the walls of these buildings the 
vaulting was made of small tubes and with partitions of stucco,' praise- 
worthy enough for these times. And from the mouldings and other 
parts it is seen that the craftsmen were going on striving in order to find 
the good way. 

Innocent III afterwards caused two palaces to be built on the Vati- 
can Hill, which were passing good, in so far as it has been possible to dis- 
cover ; but since they were destroyed by other Popes, and in particular 
by Nicholas V, who pulled down and rebuilt the greater part of one 
palace, there will be nothing said of them but this, that a part of them 
is to be seen in the great Round Tower and part in the old sacristy of 
S. Pietro. This Innocent III, who ruled for nineteen years and took 


much delight in building, made many edifices in Rome ; and in par- 
ticular, with the design of Marchionne Aretino, both architect and 
sculptor, the Conti Tower, so called from his own surname, seeing that 


he was of that family. The same Marchionne, in the year when 
Innocent III died, finished the building of the Pieve of Arezzp and 
likewise the campanile, making in sculpture, for the fagade of the 
said church, three rows of columns one above the other, with great 
variety not only in the fashion of the capitals and the bases but also 
in the shafts of the columns, some among them being thick, some 
slender, some joined together two by two, and others four by four. In 
like manner there are some twined in the manner of vines, and some 
made in the shape of figures acting as supports, with diverse carvings. 
He also made therein many animals of diverse sorts that support on 
the middle of their backs the weights of those columns, and all with the 
most strange and extravagant inventions that can possibly be imagined, 
and not only wide of the good order of the ancients but almost wide of 
all just and reasonable proportion. But with all this, whosoever sets} 
out well to consider the whole sees that he went on striving to do well, ] 
and thought peradventure to have found it in that method of working \ 
and in that whimsical variety. The same man made in sculpture, ony 
the arch that is over the door of the said church, in barbaric manner, a 
God the Father with certain angels, in half-relief and rather large ; and 
in the arch he carved the twelve months, placing his own name under- 
neath in round letters, as was the custom, and the date namely, the 
year 1216. It is said that Marchionne built in the Borgo Vecchio in 
Rome, for the same Pope Innocent III, the ancient edifice of the Hospital 
and Church of S. Spirito in Sassia, where there is still seen something 
of the old ; and the ancient church was still standing in our own day, 
when it was rebuilt in modern fashion, with greater ornament and design, 
by Pope Paul III of the house of Farnese. 

And in S. Maria Maggiore, also in Rome, he built the marble chapel 

where there is the Manger of Jesus Christ ; here he portrayed from 

the life Pope Honorius III, whose tomb, also, he made, with ornaments 

some little better than and different enough from the manner that was 

i 3 


then in universal use throughout all Italy. About the same time 
Marchionne also made the side door of S. Pietro in Bologna, which 
was truly for those times a work of the greatest mastery, by reason of 
the many carvings that are seen therein, such as lions in the round 
that sustain columns, and men in the use of porters, and other animals 
that support weights ; and in the arch above he made the twelve months 
in full relief, with various fancies, and for each month its celestial sign ; 
which work must have been held marvellous in those times. 

About the same time there was founded the Order of the Friars 
Minor of S. Francis, which was confirmed by the said Innocent III, 
Pontiff, in the year 1206 ; and there came such growth, not only in Italy 
but in all the other parts of the world, both to the devoutness and to the 
number of the Friars, that there was scarce a city of account that did 
not erect for them churches and convents of the greatest cost, each 
according to its power. Wherefore, Frate Elia having erected, two years 
before the death of S. Francis (while the Saint himself, as General, 
was abroad preaching, and he, Prior in Assisi), a church with the title 
of Our Lady, and S. Francis having died, and all Christendom flock- 
ing together to visit the body of the Saint, who, in life and in death, 
had been known as so much the friend of God, and every man making 
offering to the holy place according to his power, it was ordained that 
the said church begun by Frate Elia should be built much greater and 
more magnificent. But there being a dearth of good architects, and 
the work which was to be done having need of an excellent one, seeing 
that it had to be built upon a very high hill at the foot of which there 
runs a torrent called Tescio, there was brought to Assisi, after much 
consideration, as the best of all that were then to be found, one Maestro 
JacopQ Tedesco. He, having considered the site and grasped the wishes 
of the fathers, who held thereunto a general Chapter in Assisi, designed 
a very beautiful body of a church and convent, making in the model 
three tiers, one to be made underground and the others for two churches, 
one of which, on the lower level, should serve as a court, with a fairly large 
portico round it, and the other for a church ; planning that from the 
first one should climb to the second by a most convenient flight of steps. 

2 ^ 

1 1 






fe ^ 

o ^ 



hJ U 

CJ C/3 

W a 


which should wind round the principal chapel, opening out into two 
parts in order to lead more easily into the second church, to which he 
gave the form of a T, making it five times as long as it is broad and 
dividing one bay from another with great piers of stone, on which he 
afterwards threw very bold arches, with groined vaulting between 
one and another. From a model so made, then, was built this truly 
very great edifice, and it was followed in every part, save in the buttresses 
above that had to surround the apse and the principal chapel, and in 
making the vaulting groined, because they did not make it as has been 
said, but barrel-shaped, in order that it might be stronger. Next, in 
front of the principal chapel of the lower church, they placed the altar, 
and under that, when it was finished, they laid, with most solemn 
translation, the body of S. Francis. And because the true sepulchre 
which holds the bod}^ of the glorious Saint is in the first that is, in the 
lowest church where no one ever goes, and the doors are walled up, 
round the said altar there are very large gratings of iron, with rich orna- 
ments in marble and mosaic, that look down therein. This building is 
flanked on one of the sides by two sacristies, and by a very high cam- 
panile, namely, five times as high as it is broad. It had on top a very 
high octagonal spire, but this was removed because it threatened to fall. 
This whole work was brought to a finish in the space of four years, and 
no more, by the genius of Maestro Jacopo Tedesco and by the solicitude 
of Frate Elia, after whose death, to the end that such a pile might never 
through any lapse of time fall into ruin, there were built round the lower 
church twelve very stout towers, and in each of these a spiral staircase 
that climbs from the ground up to the summit. And in time, afterwards, 
there were made therein many chapels and other very rich ornaments, 
whereof there is no need to discourse further, since this is enough on 
this subject for the present, and above all because everyone can see how 
much of the useful, the ornamental, and the beautiful has been added 
to this beginning of Maestro Jacopo's by many supreme Pontiffs, Car- 
dinals, Princes, and other people of importance throughout all Europe. 

Now, to return to Maestro Jacopo ; by means of this work he- 
acquired so great fame throughout all Italy that he was summoned by ; 


those who then governed the city of Florence, and afterwards received 
with the greatest possible friendliness ; although, according to the use 
that the Florentines have, and had still more in ancient times, of ab- 
breviating names, he was called not Jacopo but Lajx> throughout all 
the course of his life ; for he dwelt ever with his whole family in that 
city. And although he went at diverse times to erect many buildings 
throughout Tuscany, such as the Palace of Poppi in the Casentino, 
for that Count who had had for wife the beautiful Gualdrada, and for 
her dower, the Casentino ; and for the Aretines, the Vescovado,* and 
the Palazzo Vecchio of the Lords of Pietramala ; none the less his home 
was always in Florence, where, having founded in the year 1218 the 
piers of the Ponte alia Carraja, which was then called the Ponte Nuovo, 
he delivered them finished in two years ; and a little time afterwards 
the rest was finished of wood, as was then the custom. And in the 
year 1221 he gave the design for the Church of S.Salvadore del Ves- 
covado, which was begun under his direction, and that of S. Michele 
in Piazza Padella, where there are certain sculptures in the manner 
of those times. Next, having given the design for draining the waters 
of the city, having caused the Piazza di S. Giovanni to be raised, 
having built, in the time of Messer Rubaconte da Mandella, a Milanese, 
the bridge that retains the same man's name, and having discovered 
that most useful method of paving streets, which before were covered 
with bricks, he made the model of the Palace, to-day of the Podesta, 
which was then built for the Anziani. And finally, having sent the 
model of a tomb to Sicily, to the Abbey of Monreale, for the Emperor 
Frederick and by order of Manfred, he died, leaving Arnolfo, his son, 
heir no less to the talent than to the wealth of his father. 

This Arnolfo, from whose talent architecture gained no less better- 
ment than painting had gained from that of Cimabue, being born in 
the year 1242, was thirty years of age when his father died, and was held in 
very great esteem, for the reason that, having not only learnt from his 

* Vescovado includes both the Cathedral and the Episcopal buildings of Arezzo. 
Vasari generally uses it to denote the Cathedral. 


father all that he knew, but having also given attention under Cimabue to 
design in order to make use of it in sculpture, he was held by so much ,' 
the best architect in Tuscany, that not only did the Florentines found/ 
the last circle of the walls of their city under his direction, in the year 
1284, and make after his design the Loggia and the piers of Or San 
Michele, where the grain was sold, building them of bricks and with a 
simple roof above, but by his counsel, in the same year when the Poggio 
de' Magnuoli collapsed, on the brow of S. Giorgio above S. Lucia in the Via 
de' Bardi, they determined by means of a public decree that there should 
be no more building on the said spot, nor should any edifice be ever 
made, seeing that by the sinking of the stones, which have water trickling 
under them, there would be always danger in whatsoever edifice might 
be made there. That this is true has been seen in our own day from 
the ruin of many buildings and magnificent houses of noblemen. In the 
next year, 1285, he founded the Loggia and Piazza de' Priori, and built 
the principal chapel of the Badia of Florence, and the two that are on 
either side of it, renovating the church and the choir, which at first 
had been made much smaller by Count Ugo, founder of that abbey ; 
and for Cardinal Giovanni degli Orsini, Legate of the Pope in Tuscany, 
he built the campanile of the said church, which," according to the works 
of those times, was much praised, although it did not have its completion 
of grey-stone until afterwards, in the year 1330. 

After this there was founded with his design, in the year 120^, the 
Church of S. Croce, where the Friars Minor have their seat. What 
with the middle nave and the two lesser ones Arnolfo constructed this 
so wide, that, being unable to make the vaulting below the roof by 
reason of the too great space, he, with much judgment, caused arches to 
be made from pier to pier, and upon these he placed the roofs on a slope, 
building stone gutters over the said arches in order to carry away the 
rain-water, and giving them so much fall as to make the roofs secure, as 
they are, from the danger of rotting ; which device was not only new 
and ingenious then, but is equally useful and worthy of being considered 
to-day. He then gave the design for the first cloisters of the old convent 
of that church, and a little time after he caused to be removed from round 


the Church of S. Giovanni, on the outer side, all the arches and tombs of 
marble and grey-stone that were there, and had part of them placed behind 
the campanile on the fagade of the Canon's house, beside the Company of 
S. Zanobi ; and then he incrusted with black marble from Prato all the 
eight outer walls of the said S. Giovanni, removing the grey-stone that 
there had been before between these ancient marbles. The Florentines, 
in the meanwhile, wishing to build walls in the Valdarno di Sopra round 
Castello di San Giovanni and Castel Franco, for the convenience of the 
city and of their victualling by means of the markets, Arnolfo made the 
design for them in the year 1295, and satisfied them in such a manner, as 
well in this as he had done in the other works, that he was made citizen 
of Florence. 

After these works, the Florentines determined, as Giovanni Villani 
relates in his History, to build a principal church in their city, and to 
build it such that in point of greatness and magnificence there could be 
desired none larger or more beautiful from the industry and knowledge 
of men ; and Arnolfo made the design and the model of the never to be 
sufficiently praised Church of S. Maria del Fiore, ordering that it should 
be all incrusted, without, with polished marbles and with the so many 
cornices, pilasters, columns, carved foliage, figures, and other ornaments, 
with which to-day it is seen brought, if not to the whole, to a great part 
at least of its perfection. And what was marvellous therein above 
everything else was this, that incorporating, besides S. Reparata, other 
small churches and houses that were round it, in making the site, which 
is most beautiful, he showed so great diligence and judgment in causing 
the foundations of so great a fabric to be made broad and deep, filling 
them with good material namely, with gravel and lime and with great 
stones below wherefore the square is still called " Lungo i Fondamenti," 
that they have been very well able, as is to be seen to-day, to support 
the weight of the great mass of the cupola which Filippo di Ser Brunel- 
lesco raised over them. The laying of such foundations for so great a 
church was celebrated with much solemnity, for on the day of the 
Nativity of Our Lady, in 1298, the first stone was laid by the Cardinal 
Legate of the Pope, in the presence not only of many Bishops and of all 


the clergy, but of the Podesta as well, the Captains, Priors, and other 
magistrates of the city, nay, of the whole people of Florence, calling it 
S. Maria del Fiore. And because it was estimated that the expenses 
of this fabric must be very great, as they afterwards were, there was 
imposed a tax at the Chamber of the Commune of four danari in 
the lira on everything that was put out at interest, and two soldi 
per head per annum ; not to mention that the Pope and the Legate 
granted very great indulgences to those who should make them offerings 
thereunto. I will not forbear to say, moreover, that besides the founda- 
tions, very broad and fifteen braccia deep, much consideration was 
shown in making those buttresses of masonry at every angle of the eight 
sides, seeing that it was these afterwards that emboldened the mind 
of Brunellesco to superimpose a much greater weight than that which 
Arnolfo, perchance, had thought to impose thereon. It is jsaid that 
while the two first side-doors of S. Maria del Fiore were being begun in 
marble Arnolfo caused some fig-leaves to be carved on a frieze, these 
being the arms of himself and of Maestro Lapo, his father, and that there- 
fore it may be believed that from him the family of the Lapi had its 
origin, to-day a noble family in Florence. Others say, likewise, that 
from the descendants of Arnolfo there descended Filippo di Ser Brunel- 
lesco. But leaving this, seeing that others believe that the Lapi came 
from Ficaruolo, a township on the mouth of the Po, and returning to 
our Arnolfo, I say that by reason of the greatness of this work he 
deserves infinite praise and an eternal name, above all because he caused 
it to be all incrusted, without, with marbles of many colours, and 
within, with hard stone, and made even the smallest corners of that 
same stone. But in order that everyone may know the exact size of 
this marvellous fabric, I say that from the door up to the end of the 
Chapel of S. Zanobi the length is 260 braccia, and the breadth across 
the transepts 166 ; across the three naves it is 66 braccia. The middle 
nave alone is 72 braccia in height ; and the other two lesser naves, 
48 braccia. The external circuit of the whole church is 1,280 braccia. 
The cupola, from the ground up to the base of the lantern, is 154 braccia ; 
the lantern, without the ball, is 36 braccia in height ; the ball, 4 braccia 


in height ; the cross, 8 braccia in height. The whole cupola, from the 
ground up to the summit of the cross, is 202 braccia. 

But returning to Arnolfo, I say that being held, as he was, excel- 
lent, he had acquired so great trust that nothing of importance was 
determined without his counsel ; wherefore, in the same year, the Com- 
mune of Florence having finished the foundation of the last circle of 
the walls of the city, even as it was said above that they were formerly 
begun, and so too the towers of the gates, and all being in great part 
well advanced, he made a beginning for the Palace of the Signori, 
designing it in resemblance to that which his father Lapo had built in 
'the Casentino for the Counts of Poppi. But yet, however magnificent 
i and great he designed it, he could not give it that perfection which 
: his art and his judgment required, for the following reason : the houses 
of the Uberti, Ghibellines and rebels against the people of Florence, 
had been pulled down and thrown to the ground, and a square had been 
made on the site, and the stupid obstinacy of certain men prevailed 
so greatly that Arnolfo could not bring it about, through whatsoever 
arguments he might urge thereunto, that it should be granted to him 
to put the Palace on a square base, because the governors had refused 
that the Palace should have its foundations in any way whatsoever on 
the ground of the rebel Uberti. And they brought it about that the 
northern aisle of S. Pietro Scheraggio should be thrown to the ground, 
rather than let him work in the middle of the square with his own 
measurements ; not to mention that they insisted, moreover, that 
there should be united and incorporated with the Palace the Tower 
of the Foraboschi, called the " Torre della Vacca," in height fifty 
braccia, for the use of the great bell, and together with it some 
houses bought by the Commune for this edifice. For which reasons no 
one must marvel if the foundation of the Palace is awry and out of the 
square, it having been necessary, in order to incorporate the tower in 
the middle and to render it stronger, to bind it round with the walls of 
the Palace ; which walls, having been laid open in the year i6i by 
Giorgio Vasari, painter and architect, were found excellent. Arnolfo, 
then, having filled up the said tower with good material, it was after- 

(After the School of Arnolfo di Lapo. Viterbo : Church of S. Francesco) 


wards easy for other masters to make thereon the very high campanile 
that is to be seen there to-day ; for within the limits of two years he 
finished only the Palace, which has subsequently received from time to 
time those improvements which give it to-day that greatness and majesty 
that are to be seen. 

After all these works and many more that Arnolfo made, no less 
convenient and useful than beautiful, he died at the age of seventy, 
in 1300, at the very time when Giovanni Villani began to write the 
Universal History of his times. And because he not only left S. Maria 
del Fiore founded, but its three principal tribunes, which are under the 
cupola, vaulted, to his own great glory, he well deserved that there 
should be made a memorial of him on the corner of the church opposite 
the Campanile, with these verses carved in marble in round letters : 


Of this Arnolfo we have written the Life, with the greatest brevity 
that has been possible, for the reason that, although his works do not 
approach by a great measure the perfection of the things of to-day, he 
deserves, none the less, to be celebrated with loving memory, having 
shown amid so great darkness, to those who lived after him, the way to 
walk to perfection. The portrait of Arnolfo, by the hand of Giotto, 
is to be seen in S. Croce, beside the principal chapel, at the beginning 
of the story, where the friars are weeping for the death of S. Francis, 
in one of two men that are talking together. And the picture of the 
Church of S. Maria del Fiore namely, of the outer side with the 
cupola by the hand of Simone Sanese, is to be seen in the Chapter-house 
of S. Maria Novella, copied from the original in wood that Arnolfo 
made ; wherein it is noticeable that he had thought to raise the dome 
immediately over the walls, at the edge of the first cornice, whereas 
i 4 


Filippo di Ser Brunellesco, in order to relieve them of weight and to 
make it more graceful, added thereto, before he began to raise it, all that 
height wherein to-day are the round windows ; which circumstance would 
be even clearer than it is, if the little care and diligence of those who 
have directed the Works of S. Maria del Fiore in the years past had 
not left the very model that Arnolfo made to go to ruin, and afterwards 
those of Brunellesco and of the others. 





HAVING discoursed of design and of painting in the Life of Cimabue and 
of architecture in that of Arnolfo di Lapo, in this one concerning Niccola 
and Giovanni of Pisa we will treat of sculpture, and also of the most 
important buildings that they made, for the reason that their works in 
sculpture and in architecture truly deserve to be celebrated, not only 
as being large and magnificent but also well enough conceived, since 
both in working marble and in building they swept away in great part 
that old Greek manner, rude and void of proportion, showing better 
invention in their stories and giving better attitudes to their figures. 

Niccola Pisano, then, chancing to be under certain Greek sculptors 
who were working the figures and other carved ornaments of the Duomo 
of Pisa and of the Church of S. Giovanni, and there being, among 
many marble spoils brought by the fleet of the Pisans, certain ancient 
sarcophagi that are to-day in the Campo Santo of that city, there was 
one of them, most beautiful among them all, whereon there was carved 
the Chase of Meleager after the Calydonian Boar, in very beautiful 
manner, seeing that both the nude figures and the draped were wrought 
with much mastery and with most perfect design. This sarcophagus 
was placed by the Pisans, by reason of its beauty, in the side of the 
Duomo opposite S. Rocco, beside the principal side-door, and it served 
for the body of the mother of Countess Matilda, if indeed these words are 
true that are to be read carved in the marble : 




And then : 



Niccola, pondering over the beauty of this work and being greatly 
pleased therewith, put so much study and diligence into imitating this 
manner and some other good sculptures that were in these other ancient 
sarcophagi, that he was judged, after no long time, the best sculptor of 
his day ; there being in Tuscany in those times, after Arnolfo, no other 
sculptor of repute save Fuccip, an architect and sculptor of Florence, 
who made S. Maria sopra Arno in Florence, in the year 1229, placing 
his name there, over a door, and in the Church of S. Francesco in Assisi 
he made the marble tomb of the Queen of Cyprus, with many figures, 
and in particular a portrait of her sitting on a lion, in order to show the 
strength of her soul ; which Queen, after her death, left a great sum of 
money to the end that this fabric might be finished. Niccola, then, 
having made himself known as a much better master than was Fuccio, 
was summoned to Bologna in the year 1225, after the death of 
S. Domenico Calagora, first founder of the Order of Preaching Friars, in 
order to make a marble tomb for the said Saint ; wherefore, after agree- 
ment with those who had the charge of it, he made it full of figures in 
that manner wherein it is to be seen to-day, and delivered it finished 
in the year 1231 with much credit to himself, for it was held something 
remarkable, and the best of all the works that had been wrought in sculp- 
ture up to that time. He made, likewise, the model of that church 
and of a great part of the convent. Afterwards Niccola, returning to 
Tuscany, found that Fuccio had departed from Florence and had gone 
to Rome in those days when the Emperor Frederick was crowned by Hon-. 
orius, and from Rome with Frederick to Naples, where he finished the 
Castel di Capoana, to-day called the Vicaria, wherein are all the tribunals 
of that kingdom, and likewise the Castel dell' Uovo ; and where he like- 
wise founded the towers he also made the gates over the River Volturno 


(After Niccola Pisano. Pisa) 


for the city of Capua, and a park girt with walls, for fowling, near Gravina, 
and another for sport in winter at Melfi ; besides many other things that 
are not related, for the sake of brevity. Niccola, meanwhile, busying 
himself in Florence, was going on exercising himself not only in sculpture 
but in architecture as well, by means of the buildings that were going 
on being made with some little goodness of design throughout all Italy, 
and in particular in Tuscany ; wherefore he occupied himself not a 
little with the building of the Abbey of Settimo, which had not been 
finished by the executors of Count Ugo of Brandenburg, like the other 
six, as was said above. And although it is read in a marble epitaph 
on the campanile of the said abbey, GUGLIELM. ME FECIT, it is known, 
nevertheless, by the manner,' that it was directed with the counsel of 
Niccola. About the same time he made the Palazzo Vecchio of the 
Anziani in Pisa, pulled down in our day by Duke Cosimo, in order to 
make the magnificent Palace and Convent of the Knights of S. Stephen 
on the same spot, using some part of the old, from the design and model 
of Giorgio Vasari, painter and architect of Arezzo, who has accommo- 
dated himself to those old walls as well as he has been able in fitting 
them into the new. Niccola made, likewise in Pisa, many other palaces 
and churches, and he was the first, since the loss of the good method of 
building, who made it the custom to found edifices in Pisa on piers, and on 
these to raise arches, piles having first been sunk under the said piers ; 
because, with any other method, the solid base of the foundation cracked 
and the walls always collapsed, whereas the sinking of piles renders the 
edifice absolutely safe, even as experience shows. With his design, also, 
was made the Church of S. Michele in Borgo for the Monks of Carnal - 
doli. But the most beautiful, the most ingenious, and the most whim- 
sical work of architecture that Niccola ever made was the Campanile of 
S. Niccola in Pisa, where is the seat of the Friars of S. Augustine, 
for the reason that it is octagonal on the outer side and round within, 
with stairs that wind in a spiral and lead to the summit, leaving the 
hollow space in the middle free, in the shape of a well, and on every 
fourth step are columns that have the arches above them on a slant and 
wind round and round ; wherefore, the spring of the vaulting resting on 


the said arches, one goes climbing to the summit in a manner that he who 
is on the ground always sees all those who are climbing, those who are 
climbing see those who are on the ground, and those who are halfway up 
see both the first and the second that is, those who are above and those 
who are below. This fanciful invention, with better method and more 
just proportions, and with more adornment, was afterwards put into 
execution by the architect Bramante in the Belvedere in Rome, for Pope 
Julius II, and by Antonio da San Gallo in the well that is at Orvieto, by 
order of Pope Clement VII, as will be told when the time conies. 

But returning to Niccola, who was no less excellent as sculptor than 
as architect ; in the fa9ade of the Church of S. Martino in JLucca, under 
the portico that is above the lesser door, on the left as one enters into the 
church, where there is seen a Christ Deposed from the Cross, he made a 
marble scene in half-relief, all full of figures wrought with much diligence, 
having hollowed out the marble and finished the whole in a manner that 
gave hope to those who were previously working at the art with very great 
difficulty, that there soon should come one who, with more facility, 
would give them better assistance. The same Niccola, in the year 1240, 
gave the design for the Church of S. Jacopo in Pistoia, and put to 
work there in mosaic certain Tuscan masters who made the vaulting of 
the choir-niche, which, although in those times it was held as something 
difficult and of great cost, moves us to-day rather to laughter and to 
compassion than to marvel, and all the more because such confusion, 
which comes from lack of design, existed not only in Tuscany but through- 
out all Italy, where many buildings and other works, that were being 
wrought without method and without design, give us to know no less the 
poverty of their talents than the unmeasured riches wasted by the men 
of those times, by reason of their having had no masters who might 
execute in a good manner any work that they might do. 

Niccola, then, by means of the works that he was making in sculp- 
ture and in architecture, was going on ever acquiring a greater name than 
the sculptors and architects who were then working in Romagna, as can 
be seen in S. Ippolito and S. Giovanni of Faenza, in the Duomo of 
Ravenna, in S. Francesco, in the houses of the Traversari, and in 


the Church of Porto ; and at Rimini, in the fabric of the public buildings, 
in the houses of the Malatesti, and in other buildings, which are all 
much worse than the old edifices made about the same time in Tuscany. 
And what has been said of Romagna can be also said with truth of a 
part of Lombardy. A glance at the Duomo of Ferrara, and at the other 
buildings made by the Marquis Azzo, will give us to know that this is 
the truth and how different they are from the Santo of Padua, made 
with the model of Niccola, and from the Church of the Friars Minor in 
Venice, both magnificent and honoured buildings. Many, in the time of 
Niccola, moved by laudable envy, applied themselves with more zeal to 
sculpture than they had done before, and particularly in Milan, whither 
there assembled for the building of the Duomo many Lombards and 
Germans, who afterwards scattered throughout Italy by reason of the 
discords that arose between the Milanese and the Emperor Frederick. 
And so these craftsmen, beginning to compete among themselves both 
in marble and in building, found some little of the good. The same came 
to pass in Florence after the works of Arnolfo and Niccola had been 
seen ; and the latter, while the little Church of the Misericordia was 
being erected from his design in the Piazza di S. Giovanni, made therein 
in marble, with his own hand, a Madonna with S. Dominic and another 
Saint, one on either side of her, which may still be seen on the outer 
fa?ade of the said church. 

The Florentines had begun, in the time of Niccola, to throw to 
the ground many towers made formerly in barbaric manner throughout 
the whole city, in order that the people might be less hurt by reason of 
these in the brawls that were often taking place between the Guelphs 
and the Ghibellines, or in order that there might be greater security for 
the State, and it appeared to them that it would be very difficult to pull 
down the Tower of Guardamorto, which was in the Piazza di S. Giovanni' 
because the walls had been made so stoutly that they could not be 
pulled to pieces with pickaxes, and all the more because it was very 
high. Wherefore, Niccola causing the foot of the tower to be cut away 
on one side and supporting it with wooden props a braccio and a half 
in length, and then setting fire to them, as soon as the props were burnt 


away it fell and was almost entirely shattered ; which was held some- 
thing so ingenious and useful for such affairs that later it passed into 
use, insomuch that, when there is need, any building is destroyed in very 
little time with this most easy method. Niccola was present at the 
first foundation of the Duomo of Siena, and designed the Church of 
S. Giovanni in the same city ; then, having returned to Florence in 
the same year that the Guelphs returned, he designed the Church of 
S. Trinita, and the Convent of the Nuns of Faenza, destroyed in our day in 
order to make the citadel. Being next summoned to Naples, in order 
not to desert the work in Tuscany he sent thither Maglione, his pupil, a 
sculptor and architect, who afterwards made, in the time of Conradin, 
the Church of S. Lorenzo in Naples, finished part of the Piscopio, and 
made there certain tombs, wherein he imitated closely the manner of 
Niccola, his master. 

Niccola, meanwhile, being summoned by the people of Vpjterra, in 
the year 1254 (when they came under the power of the Florentines), in 
order that their Duomo, which was small, might be enlarged, he brought 
it to better form, although it was very irregular, and made it more 
magnificent than it was before. Then, having returned finally to Pisa, 
he made the pulpit of S. Giovanni, in marble, putting therein all dili- 
gence in order to leave a memorial of himself to his country ; and among 
other things, carving in it the Universal Judgment, he made therein 
many figures, if not with perfect design, at least with infinite patience 
and diligence, as can be seen.' And because it appeared to him, as was 
true, that he had done a work worthy of praise, he carved at the foot 
of it these verses : 


The people of Siena, moved by the fame of this work, which greatly 
pleased not only the Pisans but everyone who saw it, gave to Niccola the 
making of the pulpit of their Duomo, in which there is sung the Gospel ; 
, Guglielmo Mariscotti being Praetor. In this Niccola made many stories 
of Jesus Christ, with much credit to himself, by reason of the figures that 
are there wrought and with great difficulty almost wholly detached from 


the marble. Niccola likewise made the design of the Church and Convent 
of S. Domenico in Arezzo for the Lords of Pietramala, who erected 
it. And at the entreaty of Bishop Ubertini he restored the Pieve of 
Cortona, and founded the Church of S. Margherita for the Friars of 

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S. Francis, on the highest point of that city. 

Wherefore, the fame of Niccola ever growing greater by reason of 
so great works, he was summoned in the year 1267, by Pope Clement IV, 
to Viterbo, where, besides many other works, he restored the Church 
and Convent of the Preaching Friars. From Viterbo he went to Naples 
to King Charles I, who, having routed and slain Conradin on the plain 
of Tagliacozzo, caused to be made on that spot a very rich church and 
abbey, burying therein the infinite number of bodies slain on that 
day, and ordaining afterwards that there should be prayers offered by 
many monks, day and night, for their souls ; in which building King 
Charles was so well pleased with the work of Niccola that he honoured 
and rewarded him very greatly. Returning from Naples to Tuscany, 
Niccola stayed in Oryieto for the building of S. Maria, and working 
there in company with some Germans, he made in marble, for the facade 
of that church, certain figures in the round, and in particular two scenes 
of the Universal Judgment containing Paradise and Hell ; and even as 
he strove, in the Paradise, to give the greatest beauty that he knew to 
the souls of the blessed, restored to their bodies, so too in the Hell he 
made the strangest forms of devils that can possibly be seen, most intent 
on tormenting the souls of the damned ; and in this work he surpassed not 
merely the Germans who were working there but even his own self, to his 
own great credit. And for the reason that he made therein a great 
number of figures and endured much fatigue, it has been nothing but 
praised up to our own times by those who have had no more judgment 
than this much in sculpture. 

Niccola had, among others, a son called Giovanni, who, because he 
ever followed his father and applied himself under his teaching to 
sculpture and to architecture, in a few years became not only equal to /^ 
his father but in some ways superior ; wherefore Niccola, being now 
old, retired to Pisa, and living there quietly left the management of 


everything to his son. Pope Urban IV having died at that time in 
Perugia, a summons was sent to Giovanni, who, having gone there, 
made a tomb of marble for that Pontiff, which, together with that of 
Pope Martin IV, was afterwards thrown to the ground when the people 
of Perugia enlarged their Vescovado, in a manner that there are seen 
only a few relics of it scattered throughout the church. And the people 
of Perugia, at the same time, having brought a very great body of water 
through leaden pipes from the hill of Pacciano, two miles distant from 
the city, by means of the genius and industry of a friar of the Silves- 
trines, it was given to Giovanni Pisano to make all the ornaments of the 
fountain, both in bronze and in marble ; wherefore he put his hand 
thereto and made three tiers of basins, two of marble and one of bronze. 
The first is placed above twelve rows of steps, each with twelve sides ; 
the other on some columns that stand on the lowest level of the first 
basin that is, in the middle ; and the third, which is of bronze, rests on 
three figures, and has in the middle certain griffins, also of bronze, that 
pour water on every side ; and because it appeared to Giovanni that he 
had done very well in this work, he put on it his name. About the year 
1560, the arches and the conduits of this fountain (which cost 160,000 
ducats of gold) having become in great part spoilt and ruined, Vincenzio 
Danti, a sculptor of Perugia, without rebuilding the arches, which would 
have been a thing of the greatest cost, very ingeniously reconducted the 
water to the fountain in the way that it was before, with no small credit 
to himself. 

This work finished, Giovanni, desiring to see again his old and ailing 
father, departed from Perugia in order to return to Pisa ; but, passing 
through Florence, he was forced to stay, to the end that he might apply 
himself, together with others, to the work of the Mills on the Arno, which 
were being made at S. Gregorio near the Piazza, de' Mozzi. But 
finally, having had news that his father Niccola was dead, he went to 
Pisa, where, by reason of his worth, he was received by the whole 
city with great honour, every man rejoicing that after the loss of 
Niccola there still remained Giovanni, as heir both of his talents and 
of his wealth. And the occasion having come of making proof of 


him, their opinion was in no way disappointed, because, there being 
certain things to do in the small but most ornate Church of S. Maria 
della Spina, they were given to Giovanni to do, and he, putting his hand 
thereunto, with the help of some of his boys brought many ornaments 
in that oratory to that perfection that is seen to-day ; which work, in 
so far as we can judge, must have been held miraculous 1 in those times, 
and all the more that he made in one figure the portrait of Niccola 
from nature, as best he knew. 

Seeing this, the Pisans, who long before had had the idea and the 
wish to make a place of burial for all the inhabitants of the city, both 
noble and plebeian, either in order not to fill the Duomo with graves 
or for some other reason, caused Giovanni to make the edifice of the 
Campo Santo, which is on the Piazza del Duomo, towards the walls ; 
wherefore he, with good design and with much judgment, made it in 
that manner and with those ornaments of marble and of that size which 
are to be seen ; and because there was no consideration of expense, the 
roof was made of lead. And outside the principal door there are seen 
these words carved in marble : 




This work finished, in the same year, 1283, Giovanni went to Naples, 

** '***& 

where, for King Charles, he made the Castel Nuovo of Naples ; and in 
order to have room and to make it stronger, he was forced to pull down 
many houses and churches, and in particular a convent of Friars of 
S. Francis, which was afterwards rebuilt no little larger and more 
magnificent than it was before, far from the castle and under the title 
of S. Maria della Nuova. These buildings being begun and con- 
siderably advanced, Giovanni departed from Naples, in order to return 
to Tuscany ; but arriving at Siena, without being allowed to go on 


farther he was caused to make the model of the fa9ade of the Duomo 
of that city, and afterwards the said fa$ade was made very rich and 
magnificent from this model. Next, in the year 1286, when the Vesco- 


vado of Arezzo was building with the design of Margaritone, architect of 
Arezzo, Giovanni was brought from Siena to Arezzo by Guglielmino 
Ubertini, Bishop of that city, where he made in marble thjjjgajieJLof 
the high-altar, all filled with carvings of figures, of foliage, and other 
ornaments, distributing throughout the whole work certain things in deli- 
cate mosaic, and enamels laid on plates of silver, let into the marble with 
much diligence. In the middle is a Madonna with the Child in her arms, 
and on one side S. Gregory the Pope, whose face is the portrait from 
life of Pope Honorius IV ; and on the other side is S. Donatus, Bishop 
and Protector of that city, whose body, with those of S. Antilla and 
of other Saints, is laid under that same altar. And because the said 
altar stands out by itself, round it and on the sides there are small scenes 
in low-relief from the life of S. Donatus, and the crown of the whole 
work are certain tabernacles full of marble figures in the round, wrought 
with much subtlety. On the breast of the said Madonna is a bezel- 
shaped setting of gold, wherein, so it is said, were jewels of much 
value, which have been carried away in the wars, so it is thought, by 
soldiers, who have no respect, very often, even for the most holy Sacra- 
ment, together with some little figures in the round that were on the top 
of and around that work ; on which the Aretines spent altogether, accord- 
ing to what is found in certain records, 30,000 florins of gold. Nor does 
this seem anything great, seeing that at that time it was something as 
precious and rare as it could well be ; wherefore Frederick Barbarossa, 
returning from Rome, where he had been crowned, and passing through 
Arezzo, many years after it had been made, praised it, nay, admired 
it infinitely ; and in truth with great reason, seeing that, besides every- 
thing else, the joinings of this work, made of innumerable pieces, are 
cemented and put together so well that the whole work is easily judged, 
by anyone who has not much practice in the matters of the art, to be all 
of one piece. In the same church Giovanni made the Chapel of the 
Ubertini, a most noble family, and lords of castles, as they still are 
to-day and were formerly even more ; with many ornaments of marble, 
which to-day have been covered over with other ornaments of grey-stone, 
many and fine, which were set up in that place with the design of 

(Detail, after Giovanni Pisano, from the facade of the Duomo, Siena) 


Giorgio Vasari in the year 1535, for the supporting of an organ of 
extraordinary excellence and beauty that stands thereon. 

Giovanni Pisano likewise made the design of the Church of S. Maria 
de' Servi, which to-day has been destroyed, together with many palaces 
of the most noble families of the city, for the reasons mentioned above. 
I will not forbear to say that Giovanni made use, in working on the 
said marble altar, of certain Germans who had apprenticed themselves 
to him rather for learning than for gain ; and under his teaching they 
became such that, having gone after this work to Rome, they served 
Boniface VIII in many works of sculpture for S. Pietro, and in archi- 
tecture when he made Civita Castellana. Besides this, they were sent 
by the same man to S. Maria in Orvieto, where, for its facade, they 
made many figures in marble which were passing good for those times. 
But among others who assisted Giovanni in the work of the Vescovado 
in Arezzo, Agostin_q__ and Agnplo, sculptors and architects of Siena, 
surpassed in time all the others, as will be told in the proper place."' 
But returning to Giovanni ; having departed from Orvieto, he came to 
Florence, in order to see the fabric of S. Maria del Fiore that Arnolfo was 
making, and likewise to see Giotto, of whom he had heard great things 
spoken abroad ; and no sooner had he arrived in Florence than he was 
charged by the Wardens of the said fabric of S. Maria del Fiore to make 
the Madonna which is over that door of the church that leads to the 
Canon's house, between two little angels ; which work was then much 
praised. Next, he made the little baptismal font of S. Giovanni, wherein 
are certain scenes in half-relief from the life of that Saint. Having 
then gone to Bologna, he directed the building of the principal chapel 

MKnMMmvr *-' -* * .. - *- *^-_ii.i,..i. 1 j_c J *;J-*v^ 

of the Church of S. Domenico, wherein he was charged by Bishop 
Teodorigo Borgognoni of Lucca, a friar of that Order, to make an altar 
of marble ; and in the same place he afterwards made, in the year 238, 
the marble panel wherein are the Madonna and eight other figures, 
reasonably good. 

In the year 1300, Niccola da Prato, Cardinal Legate of the Pope, 
being in Florence in order to accommodate the dissensions of the Floren- 
tines, caused him to make a convent for nuns in Prato, which is called 

4 o 


S. Niccola from his name, and to restore in the same territory the 
Convent of S. Domenico, and so too that of Pistoia; in both the one 
and the other of which there are still seen the arms of the said Cardinal. 
And because the people of Pistoia held in veneration the name of Niccola, 
father of Giovanni, by reason of that which he had wrought in that 
city with his talent, they caused Giovanni himself to make a pulpit of 
marble for the Church of S. Andrea, like to the one which he had made in 
the Duomo of Siena ; and this he did in order to compete with one which 
had been made a little before in the Church of S. Giovanni Evangelista 
by a German, who was therefore much praised. Giovanni, then, delivered 
his finished in four years, having divided this work into five scenes from 
the life of Jesus Christ, and having made therein, besides this, a Universal 
Judgment, with the greatest diligence that he knew, in order to equal 
or perchance to surpass the one of Orvieto, then so greatly renowned. 
And round the said pulpit, on the architrave, over some columns that 
support it, thinking (as was the truth, according to the knowledge of 
that age) that he had done a great and beautiful work, he carved 
these verses : 




At the same time Giovanni made the holy-water font, in marble, 
of the Church of S. Giovanni Evangelista in the same city, with three 
figures that support it Temperance, Prudence, and Justice ; which 
work, by reason of its having then been held very beautiful, was placed 
in the centre of that church as something remarkable. And before he 
departed from Pistoia, although the work had not up to then been 
begun, he made the model of the Campanile of S.Jtacorjo, the principal 
church of that city ; on which campanile, which is on the square 
of the said S. Jacopo and beside the church, there is this date :. 
A.D. 1301. 

Afterwards, Pope Benedict IX having died in Perugia, a summons 
was sent to Giovanni, who, having gone to Perugia, made a tomb of 
marble for that Pontiff in the old Church of S. Domenico, belonging to 



the Preaching Friars ; the Pope, portrayed from nature and robed in his 
pontifical habits, is lying at full length on the bier, with two angels, one on 
either side, that are holding up a curtain, and above there is a Madonna with 
two saints in relief, one on either side of her ; and many other ornaments 
are carved round that tomb. In like manner, in the new church of the said 
Preaching Friars he made the tomb of Messer Niccolb Guidalotti of 
Perugia, Bishop of Recanati, who was founder of the Sapienza Nuova 
of Perugia. In this new church, which had been founded before this 
by others, he executed the central nave, which was founded by him 
with much better method than the remainder of the church had been ; 
for on one side it leans and threatens to fall down, by reason of having 
been badly founded. And in truth, he who puts his hand to building 
and to doing anything of importance should ever take counsel, not from 
him who knows little but from the best, in order not to have to repent 
after the act, with loss and shame, that where he most needed good 
counsel he took the bad. 

Giovanni, having dispatched his business in Perugia, wished to go 
to Rome, in order to learn from those few ancient things that were to be 
seen there, eyen_as_his father had done ; but being hindered by good j 
reasons, this his desire did not take effect, and the rather as he heard that 
the Court had just gone to Avignon. Returning, then, to Pisa, Nello {"'< 
di Giovanni Falconi, Warden, caused him to make the great pulpit of 
the Duomo, which is on the right hand going towards the high-altar, 
attached to the choir ; and having made a beginning with this and with \ 
many figures in the round, three braccia high, that were to serve for it, 
little by little he brought them to that form that is seen to-day, placing 
the pulpit partly on the said figures and partly on some columns sustained 
by lions ; and on the sides he made some scenes from the life of Christ. 
It is a pity, truly, that so great cost, so great diligence, and so great 
labour should not have been accompanied by good v design, and should 
be wanting in perfection and in excellence of invention, grace, and manner, 
such as any work of our own times would show, even if made with 
much less cost and labour. None the less, it must have caused no small 
marvel to the men of those times, used to seeing only the rudest works. 

i. 6 


This work was finished in the year 1320, as appears in certain verses that 
are round the said pulpit, which run thus : 


with other thirteen verses, which are not written, in order not to weary 
the reader, and because these are enough not only to bear witness that the 
said pulpit is by the hand of Giovanni, but also that the men of these 
times were in all things made thus. A Madonna of marble, also, that 
is seen between S. John the Baptist and another Saint, over the 
principal door of the Duomo, is by the hand of Giovanni ; and he who 
is at the feet of the Madonna, on his knees, is said to be Piero Gambacorti, 
Warden of Works. However this may be, on the base whereon stands 
the image of Our Lady there are carved these words : 


In like manner, over the side door that is opposite the campanile, there 
is a Madonna of marble by the hand of Giovanni, having on one side 
a woman kneeling with two babies, representing Pisa, and on the other 
the Emperor Henry. On the base whereon stands the Madonna are 
these words : 


and beside them : 


And round the base of Pisa : 


And round the base of Henry : 



(After Giovanni Pisano. Padua : Arena Chapel) 


In the old Pieve of the territory of Prato, under the altar of 
the principal chapel, there had been kept for many years the Girdle 
of Our Lady, which Michele da Prato, returning from the Holy 
Land, had brought to his country in the year 1141 and consigned to 
Uberto, Provost of that church, who placed it where it has been said, 
and where it had been ever held in great veneration ; and in the year 
1,512 an attempt was made to steal it by a man of Prato, a fellow of the 
basest sort, and, as it were, another Ser Ciappelletto ; but having been 
discovered, he was put to death for sacrilege by the hand of justice. 
Moved by this, the people of Prato determined to make a strong and 
suitable resting-place, in order to hold the said Girdle more securely; 
wherefore, having summoned Giovanni, who was now old, they made 
with his counsel, in the greater church, the chapel wherein there is now 
preserved the said Girdle of Our Lady. And next, with the same man's 
design, they made the said church much larger than it was before, and 
encrusted it without with white and black marbles, and likewise the 
campanile, as may be seen. Finally, being now very old, Giovanni died 
in the year 1320, after having made, besides those that have been men- 
tioned, many other works in sculpture and in architecture. And in 
truth there is much owed to him and to his father Niccola, seeing that, 
in times void of all goodness of design, they gave in so great darkness no 
small light to the matters of these arts, wherein they were, for that age, 
truly excellent. Giovanni was buried in the Campo Santo, with great 
honour, in the same grave wherein had been laid Niccola, his father. 
There were as disciples of Giovanni many who flourished after him, 
but in particular Lino, sculptor and architect of Siena, who made in 
the Duomo of Pisa the chapel all adorned with marble wherein is the 
body of S. Ranieri, and likewise the baptismal font that is in the said 
Duomo, with his name. 

Nor let anyone marvel that Niccola and Giovanni did so many works, 
because, not to mention that they lived very long, being the first masters 
that were in Europe at that time, there was nothing done of any impor- 
tance in which they did not have a hand, as can be seen in many 
inscriptions besides those that have been mentioned. And seeing that, 


while touching on these two sculptors and architects, there has been 
something said of matters in Pisa, I will not forbear to say that on the 
top of the steps in front of the new hospital, round the base that supports 
a lion and the vase that rests on the porphyry column, are these words : 







EVEN as the works of Cimabue awakened no small marvel (he having 
given better design and form to the art of painting) in the men of those 
times, used to seeing nothing save works done after the Greek manner, 
even so the works in mosaic of Andrea Tafi, who lived in the same times, 
were admired, and he thereby held excellent, nay, divine ; these people 
not thinking, being unused to see anything else, that better work could be 
done in such an art. But not being in truth the most able man in the . 
world, and having considered that mosaic, by reason of its long life, was 
held in estimation more than all the other forms of painting, he went 
from Florence to Venice, where some Greek painters were working in 
S. Marco in mosaic ; and becoming intimate with them, with entreaties, with 
money, and with promises he contrived in such a manner that he brought 
to Florence Maestro Apollonio. a Greek painter, who taught him to fuse 

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the glass for mosaic and to make the cement for putting it together ; 
and in his company he wrought the upper part of the tribune of S. Gio- 
vanni, where there are the Powers, the Thrones, and the Dominions ; in 
which place Andrea, when more practised, afterwards made, as will be 
said below, the Christ that is over the side of the principal chapel. But ,\ 
having made mention of S. Giovanni, I will not pass by in silence that 
this ancient temple is all wrought, both without and within, with marbles 
of the Corinthian Order, and that it is not only designed and executed 
perfectly in all its parts and with all its proportions, but also very well 
adorned with doors and with windows, and enriched with two columns of 
granite on each wall-face, each eleven braccia high, in order to make the 
three spaces over which are the architraves, that rest on the said columns 



in order to support the whole mass of the double vaulted roof, which has 
been praised by modern architects as something remarkable, and 
deservedly, for the reason that it showed the good which that art already 
had in itself to Filippo di Ser Brunellesco, to Donatello, and to the 
other masters of those times, who learnt the art by means of this work 
and of the Church of S. Apostolo in Florence, a work so good in 
manner that it casts back to the true ancient goodness, having all the 
columns in sections, as it has been said above, measured and put together 
with so great diligence that much can be learnt by studying it in all its 
parts. But to be silent about many things that could be said about 
the good architecture of this church, I will say only that there was a 
great departure from this example and from this good method of working 
when the fa$ade of S. Miniato sul Monte without Florence was re- 
built in marble, in honour of the conversion of the Blessed S. Giovanni 
Gualberto, citizen of Florence and founder of the Order of the Monks of 
Vallombrosa ; because that and many other works that were made later 
were in no way similar in beauty to those mentioned. The same, in like 
manner, came to pass in the works of sculpture, for all those that were 
made in Italy by the masters of that age, as has been said in the Preface 
to the Lives, were very rude, as can be seen in many places, and in par- 
ticular in S. Bartolommeo at Pistoia, a church of the Canons Regular, 
where, in a pulpit very rudely made by Guido da Como, there is the 
beginning of the life of Jesus Christ, with these words carved thereon 
by the craftsman himself in the year 1199 : 


But to return to the Church of S. Giovanni ; forbearing to relate 
its origin, by reason of its having been described by Giovanni VyjaflL&jltl 
by other writers, and having already said that from this church there 
came the good architecture that is to-day in use, I will add that the 
tribune was made later, so far as it is known, and that at the time when 
Alesso Baldovinetti, succeeding Lippo, a painter of Florence, restored 
those mosaics, it was seen that it had been in the past painted with 
designs in red, and all worked on stucco. 


Andrea Tafi and Apollonius the Greek, then, in order to cover this 
tribune with mosaics, made therein a number of compartments, which, 
narrow at the top beside the lantern, went on widening as far as the 
level of the cornice below ; and they divided the upper part into circles of 
various scenes. In the first are all the ministers and executors of the Divine 
Will, namely, the Angels, the Archangels, the Cherubim, the Seraphim, 
the Powers, the Thrones, and the Dominions. In the second row, also 
in mosaic, and after the Greek manner, are the principal works done by God, 
from the creation of light down to the Flood. In the circle that is below 
these, which goes on widening with the eight sides of that tribune, are 
all the acts of Joseph and of his twelve brethren. Below these, then, 
there follow as many other spaces of the same size that circle in like 
manner onward, wherein there is the life of Jesus Christ, also in mosaic, from 
the time when He was conceived in Mary's womb up to the Ascension 
into Heaven. Then, resuming the same order, under the three friezes 
there is the life of S. John the Baptist, beginning with the appearing of the 
Angel to Zacharias the priest, up to his beheading and to the burial 
that his disciples gave him. All these works, being rude, without design ' 
and without art, I_do not' absolutely praise ; but of a truth, having regard 
to the method of working of that age and to the imperfection that the 
art of painting then showed, not to mention that the work is solid and 
that the pieces of the mosaic are very well put together, the end ofj 
this work is much better or to speak more exactly, less bad than 
is the beginning, although the whole, with respect to the work of; 
to-day, moves us rather to laughter than to pleasure or marvel. Finally, ' 
over the side of the principal chapel in the said tribune, Andrea made 
by himself and without the help of Apollonius, to his own great credit, 
the Christ that is still seen there to-day, seven braccia high. Becoming 
famous for these works throughout all Italy, and being reputed in 
his own country as excellent, he well deserved to be largely honoured 
and rewarded. It was truly very great good-fortune, that of AndreaA 
to be born at a time when, all work being rudely done, there was great I / 
esteem even for that which deserved to be esteemed very little, or rather * 
not at all. This same thing befell Fra Jagppo da Turrita, of the Order/ 

i. 7 


of S. Francis, seeing that, having made the works in mosaic that are 
in the recess behind the altar of the said S. Giovanni, notwithstanding 
that they were little worthy of praise he was remunerated for them with 
extraordinary rewards, and afterwards, as an excellent master, summoned 
to Rome, where he wrought certain things in the chapel of the high-altar 
of S. Giovanni Laterano, and in that of S. Maria Maggiore. Next, 
being summoned to Pisa, he made the Evangelists in the principal apse 
of the Duomo, with other works that are there, assisted by Andrea Tafi 
and by Gaddo Gaddi, and using the same manner wherein he had done 
his other works ; but he left them little less than wholly imperfect, and 
they were afterwards finished by Vicino. 

The works of these men, then, were prized for some time ; but when 
the works of Giotto, as will be said in its own place, were set in com- 
parison with those of Andrea, of Cimabue, and of the others, people 
recognized in part the perfection of the art, seeing the difference that 
there was between the early manner of Cimabue and that of Giotto, in. 
the figures of the one and of the other and in those that their disciples 
and imitators made. From this beginning the others sought step by 
step to follow in the path of the best masters, surpassing one another 
happily from one day to another, so that from such depths these arts have 
; been raised, as is seen, to the height of their perfection. 

Andrea lived eighty-one years, and died before Cimabue, in 1294. 
And by reason of the reputation and the honour that he gained with 
his mosaic, seeing that he, before any other man, introduced and 
taught it in better manner to the men of Tuscany, he was the cause that 
Gaddo Gaddi, Giotto, and the others afterwards made the most excellent 
works of that craft which have acquired for them fame and an eternal 
name. After the death of Andrea there was not wanting one to magnify 
him with this inscription : 


A_ disciple of Andrea was Bjiojnajriico Buffalmacco, who, being very 
young, played him many tricks, and had from him the portrait of Pope 


Celestine IV, a Milanese, and that of Innocent IV, both one and the 
other of whom he portrayed afterwards in the pictures that he made 
in S. Paolo a Ripa d' Arno in Pisa. A disciple and perhaps a son of 
the same man was Antonio d' Andrea Tafi, who was a passing good 
painter ; but I have not been able to find any work by his hand. Therex 
is only mention made of him in the old book of the Company of the 
Men of Design. 

Deservedly, then, did Andrea Tafi gain much praise among the 
early masters, for the reason that, although he learnt the principles of 
mosaic from those whom he brought from Venice to Florence, he added 
nevertheless so much of the good to the art, putting the pieces together 
with much diligence and executing the work smooth as a table, which is 
of the greatest importance in mosaic, that he opened the way to good 
work to Giotto, among others, as will be told in his Life ; and not only 
to Giotto, but to all those who have exercised themselves in this sort 
of painting from his day up to our own times. Wherefore it can be 
truly affirmed that those marvellous works which are being made to-day 
in S. Marco at Venice, and in other places, had their first beginning from : 
Andrea Tafi. 




GADDO, painter of Florence, displayed at this same time more design in 
his works, wrought after the Greek manner, than did Andrea Tafi and 
the other painters that were before him, and this perchance arose from 
the intimate friendship and intercourse that he held with Cimabue, 
seeing that, by reason either of their conformity of blood or of the 
goodness of their minds, finding themselves united one to the other by 
a strait affection, from the frequent converse that they had together and 
from their discoursing lovingly very often about the difficulties of the arts 
there were born in their minds conceptions very beautiful and grand ; 
and this came to pass for them the more easily inasmuch as they were 
assisted by the subtlety of the air of Florence, which is wont to produce 
spirits both ingenious and subtle, removing continually from round them 
that little of rust and grossness that most times nature is not able to remove, 
together with the emulation and with the precepts that the good crafts- 
men provide in every age. And it is seen clearly that works concerted 
between those who, in their friendship, are not veiled with the mask of 
duplicity (although few so made are to be found), arrive at much per- 
fection ; and the same men, conferring on the difficulties of the sciences 
that they are learning, purge them and render them so clear and easy 
that the greatest praise comes therefrom. Whereas some, on the contrary, 
diabolically working with profession of friendship, and using the cloak of 
truth and of lovingness to conceal their envy and malice, rob them of their 
conceptions, in a manner that the arts do not so soon attain to that 
excellence which they would if love embraced the minds of the gracious 
spirits ; as it truly bound together Gaddo and Cimabue, and in like manner 



Andrea Tafi and Gaddo, who was taken by Andrea into company with 
himself in order to finish the mosaics of S. Giovanni, where that Gaddo 
learnt so much that afterwards he made by himself the Prophets that 
are seen round that church in the square spaces beneath the windows ; 
and having wrought these by his own self and with much better manner, 
they brought him very great fame. Wherefore, growing in courage and 
being disposed to work by himself, he applied himself continually to 
studying the Greek manner together with that of Cimabue. Whence, 
after no long time, having become excellent in the art, there was allotted 
to him by the Wardens of Works of S. Maria del Fiore the lunette 
over the principal door within the church, wherein he wrought 
in mosaic the Coronation of Our Lady ; which work, when finished, 
was judged by all the masters, both foreign and native, the most 
beautiful that had yet been seen in all Italy in that craft, there being 
recognized therein more design, more judgment, and more 'diligence 
than in all the rest of the works in mosaic that were then to be found 
in Italy. 

Wherefore, the fame of this work spreading, Gaddo was called to 
Rome in the year 1308 (which was the year after the fire that burnt down 
the Church and the Palaces of the Lateran) by Clemently, for whom he 
finished certain works in mosaic left imperfect by Fra Jacopo da 
Turrita. He then wrought certain works, also in mosaic, in the Church 
of S. Pietro, both in the principal chapel and throughout the church, 
and in particular a large God the Father, with many other figures, on 
the facade ; and helping to finish some scenes in mosaic that are in the 
facade of S. Maria Maggiore, he somewhat improved the manner, and 
departed also a little from that manner of the Greeks, which had in it 
nothing whatever of the good. 

Next, having returned to Tuscany, he wrought in the Duomo Vecchio 
without the city of Arezzo, for the Tarlati, Lords of Pietramala, certain 
works in mosaic on a vault that was all made of sponge-stone and served 
for roof to the middle part of that church, which, being too much burdened 
by the ancient vault of stone, fell down in the time of Bishop Gentile 
of Urbino, who had it afterwards all rebuilt with bricks. Departing from 


Arezzo, Gaddo went to Pisa, where, in the niche over the Chapel of the 
Incoronata in the Duomo, he made a Madonna who is ascending into 
Heaven, and, above, a Jesus Christ who is awaiting her and has a rich 
chair prepared as a seat for her ; which work, for those times, was 
wrought so well and with so great diligence that it has been very well 
preserved, even to our own day. After this Gaddo returned to Florence, 
in mind to rest ; wherefore, undertaking to make little panels in mosaic, 
he executed some with egg-shells, with incredible diligence and patience, 
as can be seen, among others, in some that are still to-day in the 
Church of S. Giovanni in Florence. It is read, also, that he made two 
of them for King Robert, but nothing more is known of these. And let 
this be enough to have said of Gaddo Gaddi with regard to work in 

In painting he made many panels, and among others that which 
is in S. Maria Novella, in the tramezzo* of the church, in the 
Chapel of the Minerbetti, and many others that were sent into diverse 
parts of Tuscany. And working thus, now in mosaic and now in paint- 
ing, he made both in the one and in the other exercise many passing 
good works, which maintained him ever in good credit and reputation. 
I could here enlarge further in discoursing of Gaddo, but seeing that the : 
manners of the painters of those times cannot, for the most part, render 
great assistance to the craftsmen, I will pass this over in silence, reserving 
myself to be longer in the Lives of those who, having improved the arts,// 
can give some measure of assistance. 

Gaddo lived seventy-three years, and died in 1312, and was given 
honourable burial in S. Croce by his son Taddeo. And although he 
had other sons, Taddeo alone, who was held at the baptismal font by 
Giotto, applied himself to painting, learning at first the principles from 
his father and then the rest from Giotto. A disciple of Gaddo, besides 
Taddeo his son, was Vicino, a painter of Pisa, who wrought very well 

* The literal meaning of tramezzo is " something that acts as a partition between 
one thing and another." There are cases where it might be translated "rood-screen"; 
but in general it may be taken to mean transept, which may be said to divide a church 
into two parts. In all cases where the word occurs, reference will be made to this 

i. 8 


certain works in mosaic in the principal apse of the Duomo of Pisa, as 
these words demonstrate, that are still seen in that apse : 


In the Chapel of the Baroncelli, in the same Church of S. Croce, there 
is a portrait of Gaddo by the hand of his son Taddeo, in a Marriage 
of Our Lady, and beside him is Andrea Tan. And in our aforesaid 
book there is a drawing by the hand of Gaddo, made in miniature, like 
that of Cimabue, wherein it is seen how strong he was in draughts- 

Now, seeing that in an old book, from which I have drawn these 
few facts that have been related about Gaddo Gaddi, there is also an 
account of the building of S. Maria Novella, the Church of the Preaching 
Friars in Florence, a building truly magnificent and highly honoured, I 
will not pass by in silence by whom and at what time it was built. I 
say, then, that the Blessed Dominic being in Bologna, and there being 
conceded to him the property of Ripoli without Florence, he sent thither 
twelve friars under the care of the Blessed Giovanni da Salerno ; and 
not many years afterwards these friars came to Florence to occupy the 
church and precincts of S. Pancrazio, and they were settled there, when 
Dominic himself came to Florence, whereupon they left that place and 
went to settle in the Church of S. Paolo, according to his pleasure. Later } 
there being conceded to the said Blessed Giovanni the precincts of S. Maria 
Novella, with all its wealth, by the Legate of the Pope and by the Bishop of 
the city, they were put in possession and began to occupy the said precincts 
on the last day of October, 1221. And because the said church was passing 
small and faced westward, with its entrance on the Piazza Vecchia, the friars, 
being now grown to a good number and having great repute in the city, 
began to think of increasing the said church and convent. Wherefore, 
having got together a very great sum of money, and having many in the 
city who were promising every assistance, they began the building of 


the new church on St. Luke's Day, in 1278 ; the first stone of the founda- 
tions being most solemnly laid by Cardinal Latino degli Orsini, Legate 
of Pope Nicholas III to the Florentines. The architects of the said 
church were Fra Giovanni, a Florentine, and Fra Ristoro da Campi, 
lay-brothers of the same Order, who rebuilt the Ponte alia Carraja and 
that of S. Trinita, destroyed by the flood of 1264 on October i. The 
greater part of the site of the said church and convent was presented 
to the friars by the heirs of Messer Jacopo, Cavaliere de' Tornaquinci. 
The cost, as has been said, was met partly by alms and partly by the 
money of diverse persons who assisted gallantly, and in particular 
with the assistance of Frate Aldobrandino Cavalcanti, who was after- 
wards Bishop of Arezzo and is buried over the door of the Virgin. Some 
say that, besides everything else, he got together by his own industry 
all the labour and material that went into the said church, which was 
finished when the Prior of this convent was Fra Jacopo Passavanti, who 
was therefore deemed worthy of a marble tomb in front of the principal 
chapel, on the left hand. This church was consecrated in the year 1420, 
by Pope Martin V, as is seen in an inscription on marble on the right- 
hand pillar of the principal chapel, which runs thus : 




Of all these things and of many others there is an account in a chronicle 
of the building of the said church, which is in the hands of the fathers 
of S. Maria Novella, and in the History of Giovanni Villani likewise ; 
and I have not wished to withhold these few facts regarding this church 
and convent, both because it is one of the most important and most 
beautiful churches in Florence, and also because they have therein, as 
will be said below, many excellent works made by the most famous crafts- 
men that have lived in the years past. 





AMONG the old painters who were much alarmed by the praises rightly 
given by men to Cimabue and to his disciple Giotto, whose good work 
in painting was making their glory shine throughout all Italy, was one 
Margaritone, painter of Arezzo, who, with the others who in that 
unhappy century were holding the highest rank in painting, recognized 
that their works were little less than wholly obscuring his own fame. 
Margaritone, then, being held excellent among the other painters of these 
times who were working after the Greek manner, wrought many panels 
in distemper at Arezzo, and he painted in fresco in even more pictures, 
but in a long time and with much fatigue almost the whole Church 
of S. Clemente, Abbey of the Order of Camaldoli, which is to-day all 
in ruins and thrown down, together with many other buildings and 
a strong fortress called S. Chimenti, for the reason that Duke Cosimo 
de' Medici, not only on that spot but right round that city, pulled 
down many buildings and the old walls (which were restored by Guido 
Pietramalesco, formerly Bishop and Patron of that city) ; in order to 
rebuild the latter with connecting wings and bastions, much stronger and 
smaller than they were, and in consequence more easy to guard and with 
few men. There were, in the said pictures, many figures both small 
and great, and although they were wrought after the Greek manner, it 
was recognized, none the less, that they had been made with good 
judgment and lovingly ; to which witness is borne by works by the same 
man's hand which have survived in that city, and above all ajpanel that 
is now in S. Francesco, in th^ Chapel of the Conception, with a modern 
frame, wherein is a Madonna held by these friars in great veneration. 

*" " . i . -^B^ 



He made in the same church, also after the Greek manner, a greaUQrucifix 
which is now placed in that chapel where there is the Office of the Wardens 
of Works ; this is wrought on the planking, with the Cross outlined, and 
of this sort he made many in that city. For the Nuns of S. Margherita 
he wrought a work that is to-day set up against the tramezzo* of the 
church namely, a canvas fixed on a panel, wherein are scenes with small 
figures from the life of Our Lady and of S. John the Baptist, in con- 
siderably better manner than the large, and executed with more diligence 
and grace. This work is notable, not only because the said small figures 
are so well made that they look like miniatures, but also because it is a 
marvel to see that a work on canvas has been preserved for three hundred 
years. He made throughout the whole city an infinity of pictures, 
and at Sargiano, a convent of the Frati de' Zoccoli, a S. Francis por- 
trayed from nature on a panel, whereon he placed his name, as on 
a work, in his judgment, wrought better than was his wont. Next, 
having made a large Crucifix on wood, painted after the Greek manner, 
he sent it to Florence to Messer Farinata degli Uberti, a most famous 
citizen, for the reason that he had, among other noble deeds, freed his 
country from imminent ruin and peril. This Crucifix is to-day in 
S. Croce, between the Chapel of the Peruzzi and that of the Giugni. In 
S. Domenico in Arezzo, a church and convent built by the Lords of 
Pietramala in the year 1275, as their arms still prove, he wrought many 
works, and then returned to Rome (where he had already been held very 
dear by Pope Urban IV), to the end that he might do certain works in 
fresco at his commission in the portico of S. Pietro ; these were in the 
Greek manner, and passing good for those times. 

Next, having made a S . Francis on a panel at Ganghereto, a place 
above Terra Nuova in Valdarno, his spirit grew exalted and he gave 
himself to sculpture, and that with so much zeal that he succeeded much 
better than he had done in painting, because, although his first sculptures 
were in Greek manner, as four wooden figures show that are in a 
Deposition from the Cross in the Prieve, and some other figures in 
the round placed in the Chapel of S. Francesco over the baptismal 

* See note on p. 57. 






font, none the less he adopted a better manner after he had seen in 
Florence the works of Arnolfo and of the other then most famous 
sculptors. Wherefore, having returned to Arezzo in the year 1275, in 
the wake of the Court of Pope Gregory, who passed through Florence on 
his return from Avignon to Rome, there came to him opportunity to make 
himself more known, for the reason that this Pope died in Arezzo, 
after having presented thirty thousand crowns to the Commune to the end 
that there might be finished the building of the Vescovado, formerly 
begun by Maestro Lapo and little advanced, and the Aretines, besides 
making the_Chapel of S. Gregorio (where Margaritone afterwards made a 
panel) in the Vescovado, in memory of the said Pontiff, also ordained that 
a tomb of marble should be made for him by the same man in the said 
Vescovado. Putting his hand to the work, he brought it to completion, 
including therein the portrait of the Pope from nature, done both in 
marble and in painting, in a manner that it was held the best work that 
he had ever yet made. Next, work being resumed on the building of the 
Vescovado, Margaritone carried it very far on, following the design of 
Lapo ; but he did not, however, deliver it finished, because a few years 
later, in the year 1289, the wars between the Florentines and the Aretines 
were renewed, by the fault of Guglielmino Ubertini, Bishop and Lord of 
Arezzo, assisted by the Tarlati da Pietramala and by the Pazzi di Val- 
darno, although evil came to them thereby, for they were routed and slain 
at Campaldino ; and there was spent in that war all the money left by the 
Pope for the building of the Vescovado. And therefore the Aretines 
ordained that in place of this there should serve the impost paid by the 
district (thus do they call a tax), as a particular revenue for that work ; 
which impost has lasted up to our own day, and continues to last. 

Now returning to Margaritone : from what is seen in his works, 
as regards painting, he was the first who considered what a man must 
do when he works on panels of wood, to the end that they may stay 
firm in the joinings, and that they may not show fissures and cracks 
opening out after they have been painted ; for he was used to put over 
the whole surface of the panels a canvas of linen cloth, attached with a 
strong glue made from shreds of parchment and boiled over a fire 



and then over the said canvas he spread gesso, as is seen in many 
panels by him and by others. He wrought, besides, on gesso mingled 
with the same glue, friezes and diadems in relief and other orna- 
ments in the round ; and he was the inventor of the method of applying 
Armenian bole, and of spreading gold-leaf thereon and burnishing it. 
All these things, never seen before, are seen in many of his works, and 
in particular in the Pieve of Arezzo, in an altar-front wherein are 
stories of S. Donatus, and in S. Agnesa and S. Niccolo in the same 

Finally, he wrought many works in his own country, which went 
abroad ; some of which are at Rome, in S. Giovanni and in S. Pietro, 
and some at Pisa, in S. Caterina, where, in the tramezzo* of the 
church, there is set up over an altar a panel with S. Catherine on it, 
and many scenes from her life with little figures, and a S. Francis with 
many scenes on a panel, on a ground of gold. And in the upper 
Church of S. Francesco d' Assisi there is a Crucifix by his hand, painted 
in the Greek manner, on a beam that crosses the church. All which 
works were in great esteem among the people of that age, although 
to-day by us they are not esteemed save as old things, good when art 
was not, as it is to-day, at its height. And seeing that Margaritone 
applied himself also to architecture, although I have not made mention 
of any buildings made with his design, because they are not of importance, 
I will yet not forbear to say that he, according to what I find, made the 
design and model of the Palazzo de' Governatori in the city of Ancona, 
after the Greek manner, in the year 1270 ; and what is more, he made 
in sculpture, on the principal front, eight windows, whereof each one 
has, in the space in the middle, two columns that support in the middle 
two arches, over which each window has a scene in half-relief that 
reaches from the said small arches up to the top of the window ; a scene, 
I say, from the Old Testament, carved in a kind of stone that is found 
in that district. Under the said windows, on the fagade, there are 
certain words that are understood rather at discretion than because 
they are either in good form or rightly written, wherein there is read the 

* See note on p. 57. 


date and in whose time this work was made. By the hand of the same 
man, also, was the design of the Church of S. Ciriaco in Ancona. Mar- 
garitone died at the age of seventy-seven, disgusted, so it is said, to have 
lived so long, seeing the age changed and the honours with the new 
craftsmen. He was buried in the Duomo Vecchio without Arezzo, in a 
tomb of travertine, now gone to ruin in the destruction of that church ; 
and there was made for him this epitaph : 


The portrait of Margaritone, by the hand of Spinellp, is in the 
Story of the Magi, in the said Duomo, and was copied by me before 
that church was pulled down. 




THAT very obligation which the craftsmen of painting owe to nature, 
who serves continually as model to those who are ever wresting the good 
from her best and most beautiful features and striving to counterfeit 
and to imitate her, should be owed, in my belief, to Giotto, painter of 
Florence, for the reason that, after the methods of good paintings and 
their outlines had lain buried for so many years under the ruins of the 
wars, he alone, although born among inept craftsmen, by the gift of 
God revived that art, which had come to a grievous pass, and brought it 
to such a form as could be called good. And truly it was a very great 
miracle that that age, gross and inept, should have had strength to work 
in Giotto in a fashion so masterly, that design, whereof the men of those 
times had little or no knowledge, was restored completely to life by means 
of him. And yet this great man was born at the village of Vespignano, 
in the district of Florence, fourteen miles distant from that city, in the 
year 1276, from a father named Bondone, a tiller of the soil and a simple 
fellow. He, having had this son, to whom he gave the name Giotto, 
reared him conformably to his condition ; and when he had come to the 
age of ten, he showed in all his actions, although childish still, a vivacity 
and readiness of intelligence much out of the ordinary, which rendered 
him dear not only to his father but to all those also who knew him, 
both in the village and beyond. Now Bondone gave some sheep into 
his charge, and he, going about the holding, now in one part and 
now in another, to graze them, and impelled by a natural inclina- 
tion to the art of design, was for ever drawing, on stones, on the 
ground, or on sand, something from nature, or in truth anything 

7 1 


that came into his fancy. Wherefore Cimabue, going one day on 
some business of his own from Florence to Vespignano, found Giotto, 
while his sheep were browsing, portraying a sheep from nature on a 
flat and polished slab, with a stone slightly pointed, without having 
learnt any method of doing this from others, but only from nature ; 
whence Cimabue, standing fast all in a marvel, asked him if he wished to 
go to live with him. The child answered that, his father consenting, 
he would go willingly. Cimabue then asking this from Bondone, the 
latter lovingly granted it to him, and was content that he should take 
the boy with him to Florence ; whither having come, in a short time, 
assisted by nature and taught by Cimabue, the child not only equalled 
the manner of his master, but became so good an imitator of nature 
that he banished completely that rude Greek manner and revived the 
modern and good art of painting, introducing the portraying well from 
nature of living people, which had not been used for more than two 
hundred years. If, indeed, anyone had tried it, as has been said above, 
he had not succeeded very happily, nor as well by a great measure as 
Giotto, who portrayed among others, as is still seen to-day in the Chapel 
of the Palace of the Podesta at Florence, Dante Alighieri, a contemporary 
and his very great friend, and no less famous as poet than was in the same 
times Giotto as painter, so much praised by Messer Giovanni Boccaccio 
in the preface to the story of Messer Forese da Rabatta and of Giotto the 
painter himself. In the same chapel are the portraits, likewise by the 
same man's hand, of Ser Brunetto Latini, master of Dante, and of Messer 
Corso Donati, a great citizen of those times. 

The first pictures of Giotto were in the chapel of the high-altar in 
the Badia of Florence, wherein he made many works held beautiful, but 
in particular a Madonna receiving the Annunciation, for the reason that 
in her he expressed vividly the fear and the terror that the salutation of 
Gabriel inspired in Mary the Virgin, who appears, all full of the greatest 
alarm, to be wishing almost to turn to flight. By the hand of Giotto,, 
likewise, is the panel on the high-altar of the said chapel, which has 
been preserved there to our own day, and is still preserved there, more 
because of a certain reverence that is felt for the work of so great a. 


(After the fresco of 'the Roman School. Assist: Upper Church of S. Francesco) 


man than for any other reason. And in S. Croce there are four chapels 
by the same man's hand : three between the sacristy and the great 
chapel, and one on the other side. In the first of the three, which is that 
of Messer Ridolfo de' Bardi, and is that wherein are the bell-ropes, is 
the life of S. Francis, in the death of whom a good number of friars 
show very naturally the expression of weeping. In the next, which 
is that of the family of Peruzzi, are two stories of the life of S. John the 
Baptist, to whom the chapel is dedicated ; wherein great vivacity is seen 
in the dancing and leaping of Herodias, and in the promptness of some 
servants bustling at the service of the table. In the same are two 
marvellous stories of S. John the Evangelist namely, when he brings 
Drusiana back to life, and when he is carried off into Heaven. In the third, 
which is that of the Giugni, dedicated to the Apostles, there are painted 
by the hand of Giotto the stories of the martyrdom of many of them. 
In the fourth, which is on the other side of the church, towards the north, 
and belongs to the Tosinghi and to the Spinelli, and is dedicated to the 
Assumption of Our Lady, Giotto painted her Birth, her Marriage, her 
Annunciation, the Adoration of the Magi, and when she presents Christ 
as a little Child to Simeon, which is something very beautiful, seeing 
that, besides a great affection that is seen in that old man as he receives 
Christ, the action of the child, stretching out its arms in fear of him 
and turning in terror towards its mother, could not be more touching 
or more beautiful. Next, in the death of the Madonna herself, there 
are the Apostles, and a good number of angels with torches in their 
hands, all very beautiful. In the Chapel of the Baroncelli, in the said 
church, is a panel in distemper by the hand of Giotto, wherein is executed 
with much diligence the Coronation of Our Lady, with a very great 
number of little figures and a choir of angels and saints, very diligently 
wrought. And because in that work there are written his name and the 
date in letters of gold, craftsmen who will consider at what time Giotto, 
with no glimmer of the good manner, gave a beginning to the good 
method of drawing and of colouring, will be forced to hold him in the 
highest veneration. In the same Church of S. Croce, over the marble 
tomb of Carlo Marsuppini of Arezzo, there is a Crucifix, with the 

I. 10 



Madonna, S. John, and Magdalene at the foot of the Cross ; and on the 
other side of the church, exactly opposite this, over the burial-place of 
Lionardo Aretino, facing the high-altar, there is an Annunciation, which has 
been recoloured by modern painters, with small judgment on the part 
of him who has had this done. In the refectory, on a Tree of the Cross, 
are stories of S. Louis and a Last Supper by the same man's hand ; 
and on the wardrobes in the sacristy are scenes with little figures from 
the life of Christ and of S. Francis. He wrought, also, in the Church of 
the Carmine, in the Chapel of S. Giovanni Battista, all the life of that 
Saint, divided into a number of pictures ; and in the Palace of the Guelph 
party, in Florence, there is a story of the Christian Faith, painted 
perfectly in fresco by his hand ; and therein is the portrait of Pope 
Clement IV, who created that magisterial body, giving it his arms, which 
it has always held and holds still. 

After these works, departing from Florence in order to go to finish 
in Assisi the works begun by Cimabue, in passing through Arezzo he 
painted in the Pieve the Chapel of S. Francesco, which is above 
the place of baptism ; and on a round column, near a Corinthian 
capital that is both ancient and very beautiful, he portrayed from nature 
a S. Francis and a S. Dominic ; and in the Duomo without Arezzo he 
painted the Stoning of S. Stephen in a little chapel, with a beautiful 
composition of figures. These works finished, he betook himself to 
Assisi, a city of Umbria, being called thither by Fra Giovanni di Muro 
della Marca, then General of the Friars of S. Francis ; where, in the 
upper church, he painted in fresco, under the gallery that crosses 
the windows, on both sides of the church, thirty-two scenes of the life 
and acts of S. Francis that is, sixteen on each wall so perfectly that 
he acquired thereby very great fame. And in truth there is seen great 
variety in that work, not only in the gestures and attitudes of each 
figure but also in the composition of all the scenes ; not to mention that 
it enables us very beautifully to see the diversity of the costumes of those 
times, and certain imitations and observations of the things of nature. 
Among others, there is one very beautiful scene, wherein a thirsty 
man, in whom the desire for water is vividly seen, is drinking, bending 


(After the fresco of the Roman School. Assist: Upper Church of S. Francesco) 


down on the ground by a fountain with very great and truly marvellous 
expression, in a manner that it seems almost a living person that is 
drinking. There are also many other things there most worthy of con- 
sideration, about which, in order not to be tedious, I do not enlarge 
further. Let it suffice that this whole work acquired for Giotto very 
great fame, by reason of the excellence of the figures and of the order, 
proportion, liveliness, and facility which he had from nature, and 
which he had made much greater by means of study, and was able to 
demonstrate clearly in all his works. And because, besides that which 
Giotto had from nature, he was most diligent and went on ever thinking 
out new ideas and wresting them from nature, he well deserved to be 
called the disciple of nature and not of others. The aforesaid scenes 
being finished, he painted in the same place, but in the lower church, 
the upper part of the walls at the sides of the high-altar, and all the 
four angles of the vaulting above in the place where lies the body 
of S. Francis ; and all with inventions both fanciful and beautiful. 
In the first is S. Francis glorified in Heaven, surrounded by those 
virtues which are essential for him who wishes to be perfectly in the 
grace of God. On one side Obedience is placing a yoke on the neck of 
a friar who is before her on his knees, and the bands of the yoke are drawn 
by certain hands towards Heaven; and, enjoining silence with one finger 
to her lips, she has her eyes on Jesus Christ, who is shedding blood from 
His side. And in company with this virtue are Prudence and Humility, 
in order to show that where there is true obedience there are ever humility 
and prudence, which enable us to carry out every action well. In the 
second angle is Chastity, who, standing in a very strong fastness, is 
refusing to be conquered either by kingdoms or crowns or palms that 
some are presenting to her. At her feet is Purity, who is washing naked 
figures ; and Force is busy leading people to wash and purify themselves. 
Near to Chastity, on one side, is Penitence, who is chasing Love away 
with a Discipline, and putting to flight Impurity. In the third space is 
Poverty, who is walking with bare feet on thorns, and has a dog that is 
barking at her from behind, and about her a boy who is throwing stones 
at her, and another who is busy pushing some thorns with a stick against 


her legs. And this Poverty is seen here being espoused by S. Francis, 
while Jesus Christ is holding her hand, there being present, not without 
mystic meaning, Hope and Compassion. In the fourth and last of the 
said spaces is a S. Francis, also glorified, in the white tunic of a deacon, 
and shown triumphant in Heaven in the midst of a multitude of angels 
who are forming a choir round him, with a standard whereon is a Cross 
with seven stars ; and on high is the Holy Spirit. Within each of these 
angles are some Latin words that explain the scenes. In like manner, 
besides the said four angles, there are pictures on the side walls which 
are very beautiful and truly to be held in great price, both by reason of 
the perfection that is seen in them and because they were wrought with 
so great diligence that up to our own day they have remained fresh. In 
these pictures is the portrait of Giotto himself, very well made, and 
over the door of the sacristy, by the same man's hand and also in fresco, 
there is a S. Francis who is receiving the Stigmata, so loving and devout 
that to me it appears the most excellent picture that Giotto made in 
these works, which are all truly beautiful and worthy of praise. 

Having finished, then, for the last, the said S. Francis, he returned 
to Florence, where, on arriving there, he painted, on a panel that was 
to be sent to Pisa, a S. Francis on the tremendous rock of La Vernia, with 
extraordinary diligence, seeing that, besides certain landscapes full of 
trees and cliffs, which was something new in those times, there are seen 
in the attitude of a S. Francis, who is kneeling and receiving the Stigmata 
with much readiness, a most ardent desire to receive them and infinite 
love towards Jesus Christ, who, being surrounded in the sky by seraphim, 
is granting them to him with an expression so vivid that anything better 
cannot be imagined. In the lower part of the same panel there are three 
very beautiful scenes of the life of the same Saint. This panel, which 
to-day is seen in S. Francesco in Pisa on a pillar beside the high-altar, 
and is held in great veneration as a memorial of so great a man, was 
the reason that the Pisans, having just finished the building of the Campo 
Santo after the design of Giovanni, son of Niccola Pisano, as has been 
said above, gave to Giotto the painting of part of the inner walls, to the 
end that, since this so great fabric was all incrusted on the outer side with 


marbles and with carvings made at very great cost, and roofed over with 
lead, and also full of sarcophagi and ancient tombs once belonging 
to the heathens and brought to Pisa from various parts of the world, 
even so it might be adorned within, on the walls, with the noblest paint- 
ing. Having gone to Pisa, then, for this purpose, Giotto made in fresco, 
on the first part of a wall in that Campo Santo, six large stories of the 
most patient Job. And because he judiciously reflected that the marbles 
of that part of the building where he had to work were turned towards 
the sea, and that, all being saline marbles, they are ever damp by reason 
of the south-east winds and throw out a certain salt moisture, even as 
the bricks of Pisa do for the most part, and that therefore the colours 
and the paintings fade and corrode, he caused to be made over the whole 
surface where he wished to work in fresco, to the end that his work 
might be preserved as long as possible, a coating, or in truth an 
intonaco or incrustation that is to say, with lime, gypsum, and 
powdered brick all mixed together ; so suitably that the pictures which 
he afterwards made thereon have been preserved up to the present day. 
And they would be still better if the negligence of those who should 
have taken care of them had not allowed them to be much injured by 
the damp, because the fact that this was not provided for, as was 
easily possible, has been the reason that these pictures, having suffered 
from damp, have been spoilt in certain places, and the flesh-colours 
have been blackened, and the intonaco has peeled off ; not to mention 
that the nature of gypsum, when it has been mixed with lime, is to 
corrode in time and to grow rotten, whence it arises that afterwards, 
perforce, it spoils the colours, although it appears at the beginning to take 
a good and firm hold. In these scenes, besides the portrait of Messer 
Farinata degli Uberti, there are many beautiful figures, and above all 
certain villagers, who, in carrying the grievous news to Job, could not be 
more full of feeling nor show better than they do the grief that they 
felt over the lost cattle and over the other misadventures. Likewise 
there is amazing grace in the figure of a man-servant who is standing with 
a fan beside Job, who is covered with ulcers and almost abandoned by 
all ; and although he is well done in every part, he is marvellous in the 


attitude that he strikes in chasing the flies from his leprous and stinking 
master with one hand, while with the other he is holding his nose 
in disgust, in order not to notice the stench. In like manner, the 
other figures in these scenes and the heads both of the males and of the 
women are very beautiful ; and the draperies are wrought to such a degree 
of softness that it is no marvel if this work acquired for him so great 
fame, both in that city and abroad, that Pope Benedict IX of Treviso sent 
one of his courtiers into Tuscany to see what sort of man was Giotto, 
and of what kind his works, having designed to have some pictures 
made in S. Pietro. This courtier, coming in order to see Giotto 
and to hear what other masters there were in Florence excellent in 
painting and in mosaic, talked to many masters in Siena. Then, having 
received drawings from them, he came to Florence, and having gone into 
the shop of Giotto, who was working, declared to him the mind of the 
Pope and in what way it was proposed to make use of his labour, and 
at last asked him for some little drawing, to the end that he might send 
it to His Holiness. Giotto, who was most courteous, took a paper, 
and on that, with a brush dipped in red, holding his arm fast against 
his side in order to make a compass, with a turn of the hand he made a 
circle, so true in proportion and circumference that to behold it was a 
marvel. This done, he smiled and said to the courtier: " Here is your 
drawing." He, thinking he was being derided, said : " Am I to have no 
other drawing but this ?" " Tis enough and to spare," answered Giotto. 
" Send it, together with the others, and you will see if it will be recog- 
nized." The envoy, seeing that he could get nothing else, left him, very 
ill-satisfied and doubting that he had been fooled. All the same, sending 
to the Pope the other drawings and the names of those who had made 
them, he also sent that of Giotto, relating the method that he had 
followed in making his circle without moving his arm and without 
compasses. Wherefore the Pope and many courtiers that were versed 
in the arts recognized by this how much Giotto surpassed in excellence 
all the other painters of his time. This matter having afterwards 
spread abroad, there was born from it the proverb that is still wont to 
be said to men of gross wits : " Tu sei piii tondo che 1' O di Giotto !" 


(" Thou art rounder than Giotto's circle "). This proverb can be called 
beautiful not only from the occasion that gave it birth, but also 
for its significance, which consists in the double meaning ; tondo being 
used, in Tuscany, both for the perfect shape of a circle and for 
slowness and grossness of understanding. 

The aforesaid Pope then made him come to Rome, where, honouring 
him much and appreciating his talents, he made him paint five scenes 
from the life of Christ in the apse of S. Pietro, and the chief panel in 
the sacristy, which were all executed by him with so great diligence that 
there never issued from his hands any more finished work in distemper. 
Wherefore he well deserved that the Pope, holding himself to have been 
well served, should cause to be given to him six hundred ducats of gold, 
besides granting him so many favours that they were talked of through- 
out all Italy. 

About this time in order to withhold nothing worthy of remem- 
brance in connection with art there was in Rome one Oderigi d' Agobbio, 
who was much the friend of Giotto and an excellent illuminator for those 
days. This man, being summoned for this purpose by the Pope, illumi- 
nated many books for the library of the palace, which are now in great 
part eaten away by time. And in my book of ancient drawings are some 
remains from the very hand of this man, who in truth was an able man ; 
although a much better master than Oderigi was Franco Bolognese, 
who wrought a number of works excellently in that manner for the same 
Pope and for the same library, about the same time, as can be seen in 
the said book, wherein I have designs by his hand both in painting and 
in illumination, and among them an eagle very well done, and a very 
beautiful lion that is tearing a tree. Of these two excellent illuminators 
Dante makes mention in the eleventh canto of the Purgatorio, where he 
is talking of the vainglorious, in these verses : 

O, dissi a lui, non se' tu Oderigi, 
L' onor d' Agobbio, e 1' onor di quell' arte 
Che alluminare e chiamata in Parigi ? 
Frate, diss' egli, piu ridon le carte 
Che pennelleggia Franco Bolognese ; 
L' onor e tutto suo, e mio in parte. 


The Pope, having seen these works, and the manner of Giotto 
pleasing him infinitely, ordered him to make scenes from the Old Testa- 
ment and the New right round S. Pietro ; wherefore, for a beginning, 
Giotto made in fresco the Angel that is over the organ, seven braccia 
high, and many other paintings, whereof part have been restored by 
others in our own days, and part, in founding the new walls, have been 
either destroyed or removed from the old edifice of S. Pietro, up to the 
space below the organ ; such as a Madonna on a wall, which, to the end 
that it might not be thrown to the ground, was cut right out of the wall 
and made fast with beams and iron bars and thus removed, and after- 
wards built in, by reason of its beauty, in the place that pleased the pious 
love that is borne towards everything excellent in art by Messer Niccolo 
Acciaiuoli, doctor of Florence, who richly adorned this work of Giotto 
with stucco-work and also with modern paintings. By his hand, also, was 
the Navicella in mosaic that is over the three doors of the portico in the 
court of S. Pietro, which is truly marvellous and deservedly praised 
by all beautiful minds, because in it, besides the design, there is the 
grouping of the Apostles, who are travailing in diverse manners through 
the sea-tempest, while the winds are blowing into a sail, which has 
so high a relief that a real one would not have more ; and moreover it 
is difficult to have to make with those pieces of glass a unity such as 
that which is seen in the lights and shadows of so great a sail, which 
could only be equalled by the brush with great difficulty and by making 
every possible effort ; not to mention that in a fisherman, who is fishing 
from a rock with a line, there is seen an attitude of extreme patience 
proper to that art, and in his face the hope and the wish to make a catch. 
Under this work are three little arches in fresco, of which, since they are 
for the greater part spoilt, I will say no more. The praises universally 
given by craftsmen to this work are well deserved. 

Giotto, having afterwards painted on a panel a large Crucifix coloured 
in distemper, for the Minerva, a church of the Preaching Friars, returned 
to his own country, having been abroad six years. But no long time 
after, by reason of the death of Pope Benedict IX, Clement V was 
created Pope in Perugia, and Giotto was forced to betake himself with 


that Pope to the place where he brought his Court, to Avignon, in 
order to do certain works there ; and having gone there, he made, not 
only in Avignon but in many other places in France, many very beautiful 
panels and pictures in fresco, which pleased the Pontiff and the whole 
Court infinitely. Wherefore, the work dispatched, the Pope dismissed 
him lovingly and with many gifts, and he returned home no less rich 
than honoured and famous ; and among the rest he brought back the 
portrait of that Pope, which he gave afterwards to Taddeo Gaddi, 
his disciple. And this return of Giotto to Florence was in the year 
1316. But it was not granted to him to stay long in Florence, 
because, being summoned to Padua by the agency of the Signori della 
Scala, he painted a very beautiful chapel in the Santo, a church built 
in those times. From there he went to Verona, where, for Messer 
Cane, he made certain pictures in his palace, and in particular the 
portrait of that lord ; and a panel for the Friars of S. Francis. 
These works completed, in returning to Tuscany he was forced to 
stay in Ferrara, and he painted at the behest of those Signori d' 
Este, in their palace and in S. Agostino, some works that are still 
seen there to-day. Meanwhile, it coming to the ears of Dante, poet 
of Florence, that Giotto was in Ferrara, he so contrived that he 
brought him to Ravenna, where he was living in exile ; and he caused 
him to make round the Church of S. Francesco, for the Signori da 
Polenta, some scenes in fresco that are passing good. Next, having 
gone from Ravenna to Urbino, there too he wrought some works. 
Then, chancing to pass through Arezzo, he could not but comply with 
the wish of Piero Saccone, who had been much his friend ; wherefore he 
made for him in fresco, on a pillar in the principal chapel of the Vesco- 
vado, a S. Martin who has cut his cloak in half and is giving one part of 
it to a beggar, who is standing before him almost wholly naked. Then, 
having made for the Abbey of S. Fiore a large Crucifix painted in dis- 
temper on wood, which is to-day in the middle of that church, he returned 
finally to Florence, where, among many other works, he made some 
pictures in the Convent of the Nuns of Faenza, both in fresco 
and in distemper, that are not in existence to-day, by reason of 
i. ii 


the destruction of that convent. In the year 1322, likewise Dante, 
very much his friend, having died in the year before, to his great 
sorrow he went to Lucca, and at the request of Castruccio, then 
Lord of that city, his birthplace, he made a panel in S. Martino 
with a Christ in air and four Saints, Protectors of that city namely, 
S. Peter, S. Regulus, S. Martin, and S. Paulinus who appear to be 
recommending a Pope and an Emperor, who, according to what is be- 
lieved by many, are Frederick of Bavaria and the Anti-Pope Nicholas V. 
Some, likewise, believe that Giotto designed the castle and fortress of 
Giusta, which is impregnable, at San Frediano, in the same city of 

Afterwards, Giotto having returned to Florence, Robert, King of 
Naples, wrote to Charles, King of Calabria, his first-born son, who 
chanced to be in Florence, that he should send him Giotto to Naples at 
all costs, for the reason that, having finished the building of S. Chiara, a 
convent of nuns and a royal church, he wished that it should be adorned 
by him with noble paintings. Giotto, then, hearing himself summoned 
by a King so greatly renowned and famous, went more than willingly 
to serve him, and, on arriving, painted many scenes from the Old 
Testament and the New in some chapels of the said convent. And the 
scenes from the Apocalypse that he made in one of the said chapels 
are said to have been inventions of Dante ; and this may be also true 
of those at Assisi, so greatly renowned, whereof there has been enough 
said above. And although Dante at that time was dead, they may have 
held discourse on these matters, as often comes to pass between friends. 

But to return to Naples ; Giotto made many works in the Castel 
dell' Uovo, and in particular the chapel, which much pleased that 
King, by whom he was so greatly beloved that many times, while work- 
ing, Giotto found himself entertained by the King in person, who took 
pleasure in seeing him at work and in hearing his discourse. And Giotto, 
who had ever some jest on his tongue and some witty repartee in readi- 
ness, would entertain him with his hand, in painting, and with pleasant 
discourse, in his jesting. Wherefore, the King saying to him one day 
that he wished to make him the first man in Naples, Giotto answered, 


(Florence: Accademia 103. 'Panel) 


" And for that end am I lodged at the Porta Reale, in order to be the 
first in Naples." Another time, the King saying to him, " Giotto, an I 
were you, now that it is hot, I would give over painting for a little ;" he 
answered, "And I, i' faith, an I were you." Being then very dear to 
the King, he made for him a good number of pictures in a hall (that 
King Alfonso I pulled down in order to make the Castle), and also in the 
Incoronata ; and among others in the said hall were the portraits of many 
famous men, and among them that of Giotto himself. Now the King 
having one day out of caprice besought him to paint his realm for him, 
Giotto, so it is said, painted for him an ass saddled, that had at its feet 
a new pack-saddle, and was sniffing at it and making semblance of 
desiring it ; and on both the old pack-saddle and the new one were 
the royal crown and the sceptre of sovereignty ; wherefore Giotto, being 
asked by the King what such a picture signified, answered that such 
were his subjects and such the kingdom, wherein every day a new lord 
was desired. 

Departing from Naples in order to go to Rome, Giotto stopped at 
Gaeta, where he was forced to paint some scenes from the Old Testament 
in the Nunziata, which are now spoilt by time, but yet not so com- 
pletely that there may not be seen in them very well the portrait of 
Giotto himself, near a large and very beautiful Crucifix. This work 
finished, not being able to refuse this to Signer Malatesta, he first occupied 
himself in his service for some days in Rome, and afterwards he betook 
himself to Rimini, of which city the said Malatesta was lord ; and there, 
in the Church of S. Francesco, he made very many pictures, which 
were afterwards thrown to the ground and destroyed by Gismondo, son 
of Pandolfo Malatesta, who rebuilt the whole said church anew. In the 
cloisters of the said place, also, opposite to the wall of the church, he 
painted in fresco the story of the Blessed Michelina, which was one of 
the most beautiful and excellent works that Giotto ever made, by 
reason of the many and beautiful ideas that he had in working thereon ; 
for besides the beauty of the draperies, and the grace and vivacity 
of the heads, which are miraculous, there is a young woman therein 
as beautiful as ever a woman can be, who, in order to clear 


herself from the false charge of adultery, is taking oath over a book 
in a most wonderful attitude, holding her eyes fixed on those of her 
husband, who was making her take the oath by reason of mistrust in a 
black son born from her, whom he could in no way bring himself to 
believe to be his. She, even as the husband is showing disdain and 
distrust in his face, is making clear with the purity of her brow and of her 
eyes, to those who are most intently gazing on her, her innocence and 
simplicity, and the wrong that he is doing to her in making her take 
oath and in proclaiming her wrongly as a harlot. 

In like manner, very great feeling was that which he expressed in a 
sick man stricken with certain sores, seeing that all the women who are 
round him, overcome by the stench, are making certain grimaces of dis- 
gust, the most gracious in the world. The foreshortenings, next, that are 
seen in another picture among a quantity of beggars that he portrayed, 
are very worthy of praise and should be held in great price among crafts- 
men, because from them there came the first beginning and method of 
making them, not to mention that it cannot be said that they are not 
passing good for early work. But above everything else that is in this 
work, most marvellous is the gesture that the aforesaid Blessed Michelina 
is making towards certain usurers, who are disbursing to her the money 
from the sale of her possessions for giving to the poor, seeing that in her 
there is shown contempt of money and of the other things of this earth, 
which appear to disgust her, and, in them, the personification of human 
avarice and greed. Very beautiful, too, is the figure of one who, while 
counting the money, appears to be making sign to the notary who is 
writing, considering that, although he has his eyes on the notary, he is 
yet keeping his hands on the money, thus revealing his love of it, his 
avarice, and his distrust. In like manner, the three figures that are up- 
holding the garments of S. Francis in the sky, representing Obedience, 
Patience, and Poverty, are worthy of infinite praise, above all because 
there is in the manner of the draperies a natural flow of folds that gives 
us to know that Giotto was born in order to give light to painting. 
Besides this, he portrayed Signor Malatesta on a ship in this work, so 
naturally that he appears absolutely alive ; and some mariners and 


other people, in their promptness, their expressions, and their attitudes 
and particularly a figure that is speaking with some others and spits into 
the sea, putting one hand up to his face give us to know the excellence 
of Giotto. And certainly, among all the works of painting made by this 
master, this may be said to be one of the best, for the reason that there 
is not one figure in so great a number that does not show very great 
craftsmanship, and that is not placed in some characteristic attitude. 
And therefore it is no marvel that Signor Malatesta did not fail to reward 
him magnificently and to praise him. 

Having finished his labours for that lord, he complied with the request 
of a Prior of Florence who was then at S. Cataldo d' Arimini, and made a 
S. Thomas Aquinas, reading to his friars, without the door of the church. 
Departing thence, he returned to Ravenna and painted a chapel in 
fresco in S. Giovanni Evangelista, which is much extolled. Having next 
returned to Florence with very great honour and ample means, he painted 
a Crucifix on wood and in distemper for S. Marco, larger than life and on a 
ground of gold, which was placed on the right hand in the church. And 
he made another like it in S. Maria Novella, whereon Puccio Capanna, 
his pupil, worked in company with him ; and this is still to-day over the 
principal door, on the right as you enter the church, over the tomb of 
the Gaddi. And in the same church, over the tramezzo,* he made 
a S. Louis for Paolo di Lotto Ardinghelli, and at the foot thereof the 
portrait of him and of his wife, from the life. 

Afterwards, in the year 1327, Guido Tarlati da Pietramala, Bishop 
and Lord of Arezzo, died at Massa di Maremma in returning from Lucca, 
where he had been to visit the Emperor, and after his body had been 
brought to Arezzo and the most magnificent funeral honours had been 
paid to it, Piero Saccone and Dolfo da Pietramala, the brother of 
the Bishop, determined that there should be made for him a tomb in 
marble worthy of the greatness of so notable a man, who had been a 
lord both spiritual and temporal, and head of the Ghibelline party in 
Tuscany. Wherefore, having written to Giotto that he should make the 
design of a tomb very rich and with all possible adornment, and having 

* See note on p. 57. 


sent him the measurements, they prayed him afterwards that he should 
place at their disposal the sculptor who was the most excellent, according 
to his opinion, of all that were in Italy, because they were relying wholly 
on his judgment. Giotto, who was most courteous, made the design 
and sent it to them ; and after this design, as will be told in the proper 
place, the said tomb was made. And because the said Piero Saccone had 
infinite love for the talent of this man, having taken Borgo a San Sepolcro 
no long time after he had received the said design, he brought from there 
to Arezzo a panel with little figures by the hand of Giotto, which after- 
wards fell to pieces ; and Baccio Gondi, nobleman of Florence, a lover of 
these noble arts and of every talent, being Commissary of Arezzo, sought 
out the pieces of this panel with great diligence, and having found some 
brought them to Florence, where he holds them in great veneration, 
together with some other works that he has by the hand of the same 
Giotto, who wrought so many that their number is almost beyond belief. 
And not many years ago, chancing to be at the Hermitage of Camaldoli, 
where I have wrought many works for those reverend Fathers, I saw 
in a cell, whither it had been brought by the Very Reverend Don 
Antonio da Pisa, then General of the Congregation of Camaldoli, a very 
beautiful little Crucifix on a ground of gold, with the name of Giotto in 
his own hand ; which Crucifix, according to what I hear from the Reverend 
Don Silvano Razzi, monk of Camaldoli, is kept to-day in the cell of the 
Superior of the Monastery of the Angeli, as being a very rare work and 
by the hand of Giotto, in company with a most beautiful little picture 
by Raffaello da Urbino. 

For the Frati Umiliati of Ognissanti in Florence, Giotto painted a 
chapel and four panels, in one of which there was the Madonna, with many 
angels round her and the Child in her arms, and a large Crucifix on wood, 
whereof Puccio Capanna took the design and wrought many of them 
afterwards throughout all Italy, having much practice in the manner of. 
Giotto. In the tramezzo* of the said church, when this book of the 
Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects was printed the first time, 
there was a little panel in distemper painted by Giotto with infinite 

* See note on p. 57. 


diligence, wherein was the death of Our Lady, with the Apostles round 
her and with a Christ who is receiving her soul into His arms. This 
work was much praised by the craftsmen of painting, and in particular 
by Michelagnolo Buonarroti, who declared, as was said another time, 
that the quality of this painted story could not be more like to the truth 
than it is. This little panel, I say, having come into notice from the time 
when the book of these Lives was first puolished, was afterwards carried 
off by someone unknown, who, perhaps out of love for art and out of 
piety, it seeming to him that it was little esteemed, became, as said our 
poet, impious. And truly it was a miracle in those times that Giotto 
had so great loveliness in his painting, considering, above all, that he 
learnt the art in a certain measure without a master. 

After these works, in the year 1334, on July 9, he put his hand 
to the Campanile of S. Maria del Fiore, whereof the foundation was a 
platform of strong stone, in a pit sunk twenty braccia deep from which 
water and gravel had been removed ; upon this platform he made a good 
mass of concrete, that reached to the height of twelve braccia above 
the first foundation, and the rest namely, the other eight braccia 
he caused to be made of masonry. And at this beginning and 
foundation there officiated the Bishop of the city, who, in the presence 
of all the clergy and all the magistrates, solemnly laid the first stone. 
This work, then, being carried on with the said model, which was in the 
German manner that was in use in those times, Giotto designed all the 
scenes that were going into the ornamentation, and marked out the 
model with white, black, and red colours in all those places wherein the 
marbles and the friezes were to go, with much diligence. The circuit round 
the base was one hundred braccia that is, twenty-five braccia for each side 
and the height, one hundred and forty-four braccia. And if that is true, 
and I hold it as of the truest, which Lorenzo di Cione Ghiberti has left 
in writing, Giotto made not only the model of this campanile, but also 
part of those scenes in marble wherein are the beginnings of all the arts, 
in sculpture and in relief. And the said Lorenzo declares that he 
saw models in relief by the hand of Giotto, and in particular those of 
these works ; which circumstance can be easily believed, design and 


invention being father and mother of all these arts and not of one alone. 
This campanile was destined, according to the model of Giotto, to have 
a spire, or rather a pyramid, four-sided and fifty braccia high, as a com- 
pletion to what is now seen ; but, for the reason that it was a German 
idea and in an old manner, modern architects have never done aught 
but advise that it should not be made, the work seeming to be better as 
it is. For all these works Giotto was not only made citizen of Florence, but 
was given a pension of one hundred florins yearly by the Commune of 
Florence, which was something very great in those times ; and he was 
made overseer over this work, which was carried on after him by Taddeo 
Gaddi, for he did not live so long as to be able to see it finished. 

Now, while this work continued to be carried forward, he made 
a panel for the Nuns of S. Giorgio, and three half-length figures in an 
arch over the inner side of the door of the Badia in Florence, now 
covered with whitewash in order to give more light to the church. And 
in the Great Hall of the Podesta of Florence he painted the Commune 
(an idea stolen by many), representing it as sitting in the form of Judge, 
sceptre in hand, and over its head he placed the balanced scales as 
symbol of the just decisions administered by it, accompanying it with 
four Virtues, that are, Strength with courage, Wisdom with the laws, 
Justice with arms, and Temperance with words ; this work is beautiful 
as a picture, and characteristic and appropriate in invention. 

Afterwards, having gone again to Padua, besides many other works 
and chapels that he painted there, he made a Mundane Glory in the 
precincts of the Arena, which gained him much honour and profit. In 
Milan, also, he wrought certain works, that are scattered throughout 
that city and held most beautiful even to this day. Finally, having 
returned from Milan, no long time passed before he gave up his soul to 
God, having wrought so many most beautiful works in his life, and having 
been no less good as Christian than he was excellent as painter. He died in 
the year 1336, to the great grief of all his fellow-citizens nay, of all those 
who had known him or even only heard his name and he was buried, 
even as his virtues deserved, with great honour, having been loved by all 
while he lived, and in particular by the men excellent in all the professions, 

(After the fresco by Giotto. Padua : Arena Chapel j 


seeing that, besides Dante, of whom we have spoken above, he was much 
honoured by Petrarca, both he and his works, so greatly that it is read 
in Petrarca' s testament that he left to Signor Francesco da Carrara, Lord 
of Padua, among other things held by him in the highest veneration, a 
picture by the hand of Giotto containing a Madonna, as something rare 
and very dear to him. And the words of that clause in the testament 
run thus : 

" Transeo ad dispositionem aliarum rerum ; et praedicto igitur domino 
meo Paduano, quia et ipse per Dei gratiam non eget, et ego nihil aliud 
habeo dignum se, mitto tabulam meam sive historiam Beatae Virginis 
Mariae, opus Jocti pictoris egregii, quae mihi ab amico meo Michael e 
Vannis de Florentia missa est, in cujus pulchritudinem ignorant es non 
intelligunt, magistri autem artis stupent ; hanc iconam ipsi domino 
lego, ut ipsa Virgo benedicta sibi sit propitia apud filium suum Jesum 

And the same Petrarch, in a Latin epistle in the fifth book of his 
Familiar Letters, says these words : 

" Atque (ut a veteribus ad nova, ab externis ad nostra transgrediar) 
duos ego novi pictores egregios, nee formosos, Joctum Florentinum civem, 
cujus inter modernos fama ingens est, et Simonem Senensem. Novi 
scultores aliquot," etc. 

Giotto was buried in S. Maria del Fiore, on the left side as you 
enter the church, where there is a slab of white marble in memory of so 
great a man. And, as was told in the Life of Cimabue, a commentator 
of Dante, who lived at the same time as Giotto, said : " Giotto was and 
is the most eminent among painters in the same city of Florence, and 
Ms works bear testimony for him in Rome, in Naples, in Avignon, in 
Florence, in Padua, and in many other parts of the world." 

His disciples were Taddeo Gaddi, held by him at baptism, as has 
been said, and Puccio Capanna of Florence, who, working at Rimini in the 
Church of S. Cataldo, belonging to the Preaching Friars, painted perfectly 
in fresco the hull of a ship which appears to be sinking in the sea, with 
men who are throwing things into the sea, one of whom is Puccio himself 
portrayed from life among a good number of mariners. The same man 

I. 12 


painted many works after the death of Giotto in the Church of S. 
Francesco at Assisi, and in the Church of S. Trinita in Florence, near 
the side-door towards the river, he painted the Chapel of the Strozzi, 
wherein is the Coronation of the Madonna in fresco, with a choir of angels 
which draw very much to the manner of Giotto ; and on the sides are stories 
of S. Lucia, very well wrought. In the Badia of Florence he painted the 
Chapel of S. Giovanni Evangelista, belonging to the family of Covoni, 
beside the sacristry ; and in Pistoia he wrought in fresco the principal 
chapel of the Church of S. Francesco and the Chapel of S. Lodovico, with 
the stories of those Saints, passing well painted. In the middle of the 
Church of S. Domenico, in the same city, there are a Crucifix, a Madonna, 
and a S. John, wrought with much sweetness, and at their feet a complete 
human skeleton, wherein (and this was something unusual in those times} 
Puccio showed that he had sought to find the foundations of art. In this 
work there is read his name, written by himself in this fashion : PUCCIO 
DI FIORENZA ME FECK. In the arch over the door of S. Maria Nuova 
in the said church there are three half-length figures by his hand, 
Our Lady with the Child in her arms, and S. Peter on one side, and on 
the other S. Francis. He also painted in the aforesaid city of Assisi, 
in the lower Church of S. Francesco, some scenes of the Passion of Jesus 
Christ in fresco, with good and very resolute mastery, and in the chapel 
of the Church of S. Maria degli Angeli he wrought in fresco a Christ 
in Glory, with the Virgin praying to Him for the Christian people ; 
this work, which is passing good, has been all blackened by the smoke 
of the lamps and the candles that are burning there continually in great 
quantity. And in truth, in so far as it can be judged, Puccio had the 
manner and the whole method of working of his master Giotto, and knew 
how to make good use of it in the works that he wrought, even if, as some 
have it, he did not live long, having fallen sick and died by reason of 
labouring too much in fresco. By his hand, in so far as is known, is the 
Chapel of S. Martino in the same church, with the stories of that Saint, 
wrought in fresco for Cardinal Gentile. There is seen, also, in the middle 
of the street called Portica, a Christ at the Column, and in a square picture 
there is Our Lady, with S. Catherine and S. Clara, one on either side of 


her. There are works by his hand scattered about in many other places, 
such as a panel with the Passion of Christ, and stories of S. Francis, in 
the tramezzo* of the church in Bologna ; and many others, in short, 
that are passed by for the sake of brevity. I will say, indeed, that in 
Assisi, where most of his works are, and where it appears to me that he 
assisted Giotto in painting, I have found that they hold him as their 
fellow-citizen, and that there are still to-day in that city some of the family 
of the Capanni. Wherefore it may easily be believed that he was born in 
Florence, having written so himself, and that he was a disciple of Giotto, 
but that afterwards he took a wife in Assisi, that there he had children, 
and that now he has descendants there. But because it is of little impor- 
tance to know this exactly, it is enough to say that he was a good master. 

Likewise a disciple of Giotto and a very masterly painter was 
Ottaviano da Faenza, who painted many works at Ferrara in S. Giorgio, 
the seat of the Monks of Monte Oliveto ; and in Faenza, where he lived 
and died, he painted, in the arch over the door of S. Francesco, a 
Madonna, S. Peter and S. Paul, and many other works in his said birth- 
place and in Bologna. 

A disciple of Giotto, also, was Pace da Faenza, who stayed with him 
long and assisted him in many works ; and in Bologna there are some 
scenes in fresco by his hand on the facade of S. Giovanni Decollate. 
This Pace was an able man, particularly in making little figures, as 
can be seen to this day in the Church of S. Francesco at Forli, in a 
Tree of the Cross, and in a little panel in distemper, wherein is the life 
of Christ, with four little scenes from the life of Our Lady, all very 
well wrought. It is said that he wrought in fresco, in the Chapel of 
S. Antonio at Assisi, some stories of the life of that Saint, for a 
Duke of Spoleto who is buried in that place together with his son, 
both having died fighting in certain suburbs of Assisi, according to 
what is seen in a long inscription that is on the sarcophagus of the said 
tomb. In the old book of the Company of Painters it is found that 
the same man had another disciple, Francesco, called di Maestro Giotto, 
of whom I have nothing else to relate. 

* See note on p. 57. 


Guglielmo of Forli was also a disciple of Giotto, and besides many 
other works he painted the chapel of the high-altar in S. Domenico at 
Forli, his native city. Disciples of Giotto, also, were Pietro Laurati and 
Simon Memmi of Siena, Stefano, a Florentine, and Pietro Cavallini, a 
Roman ; but, seeing that of all these there is account in the Life of each 
one of them, let it suffice to have said in this place that they were disciples 
of Giotto, who drew very well for his time and for that manner, whereunto 
witness is borne by many sheets of parchment drawn by his hand in wSrter- 
colotir, outlined with the pen, in chiaroscuro, with the high lights in 
white, which are in our book of drawings, and are truly a marvel in 
comparison with those of the masters that lived before him. 

Giotto, as it has been said, was very ingenious and humorous, and 
very witty in his sayings, whereof there is still vivid memory in that 
city ; for besides that which Messer Giovanni Boccaccio wrote about 
him, Franco Sacchetti, in his three hundred Stories, relates many of them 
that are very beautiful. Of these I will not forbear to write down some 
with the very words of Franco himself, to the end that, together with the 
story itself, there may be seen certain modes of speech and expressions 
of those times. He says in one, then, to give it its heading : 

" To Giotto, a great painter, is given a buckler to paint by a man of 
small account. He, making a jest of it, paints it in such a fashion that 
the other is put to confusion." 

The story : " Everyone must have heard already who was Giotto, 
and how great a painter he was above every other. A clownish fellow, 
having heard his fame and having need, perchance for doing watch and 
ward, to have a buckler of his painted, went off incontinent to the shop 
of Giotto, with one who carried his buckler behind him, and, arriving 
where he found Giotto, said, ' God save thee, master, I would have thee 
paint my arms on this buckler.' Giotto, considering the man and the 
way of him, said no other word save this, ' When dost thou want it ?' . 
And he told him ; and Giotto said, ' Leave it to me '; and off he went. 
And Giotto, being left alone, ponders to himself, ' What meaneth this ? 
Can this fellow have been sent to me in jest ? Howsoever it may be, 
never was there brought to me a buckler to paint, and he who brings it 


is a simple manikin and bids me make him his arms as if he were of the 
blood-royal of France ; i' faith, I must make him a new fashion of arms.' 
And so, pondering within himself, he put the said buckler before him, 
and, having designed what seemed good to him, bade one of his disciples 
finish the painting, and so he did ; which painting was a helmet, a gorget, 
a pair of arm-pieces, a pair of iron gauntlets, a cuirass and a back-piece, 
a pair of thigh-pieces, a pair of leg-pieces, a sword, a dagger, and a lance. 
The great man, who knew not what he was in for, on arriving, comes 
forward and says, ' Master, is it painted, that buckler ?' Said Giotto, 
' Of a truth, it is ; go, someone, and bring it down.' The buckler coming, 
that would-be gentleman begins to look at it and says to Giotto, ' What 
filthy mess is this that thou hast painted for me ?' Said Giotto, ' And 
it will seem to thee a right filthy business in the paying.' Said he, ' I 
will not pay four farthings for it.' Said Giotto, ' And what didst thou 
tell me that I was to paint ?' And he answered, ' My arms.' Said 
Giotto, ' And are they not here ? Is there one wanting ?' Said the 
fellow, ' Well, well !' Said Giotto, ' Nay, 'tis not well, God help thee ! 
And a great booby must thou be, for if one asked thee, " Who art thou ?" 
scarce wouldst thou be able to tell ; and here thou comest and sayest, 
" Paint me my arms !" An thou hadst been one of the Bardi, that were 
enough. What arms dost thou bear ? Whence art thou ? Who were 
thy ancestors ? Out upon thee ! Art not ashamed of thyself ? Begin 
first to come into the world before thou pratest of arms as if thou wert 
Dusnam of Bavaria. I have made thee a whole suit of armour on thy 
buckler ; if there be one piece wanting, name it, and I will have it painted.' 
Said he, ' Thou dost use vile words to me, and hast spoilt me a buckler ;' 
and taking himself off, he went to the justice and had Giotto summoned. 
Giotto appeared and had him summoned, claiming two florins for the 
painting, and the other claimed them from him. The officers, having 
heard the pleadings, which Giotto made much the better, judged that 
the other should take his buckler so painted, and should give six lire 
to Giotto, since he was in the right. Wherefore he was constrained to 
take his buckler and go, and was dismissed ; and so, not knowing his 
measure, he had his measure taken." 


It is said that Giotto, while working in his boyhood under Cimabue, 
once painted a fly on the nose of a figure that Cimabue himself had 
made, so true to nature that his master, returning to continue the work, 
set himself more than once to drive it away with his hand, thinking that it 
was real, before he perceived his mistake. Many other tricks played by 
Giotto and many witty retorts could I relate, but I wish that these, 
which deal with matters pertinent to art, should be enough for me to 
have told in this place, leaving the rest to the said Franco and others. 

Finally, seeing that there remained memory of Giotto not only in 
the works that issued from his hands, but in those also that issued from 
the hand of the writers of those times, he having been the man who 
recovered the true method of painting, which had been lost for many 
years before him ; therefore, by public decree and by the effort and 
particular affection of the elder Lorenzo de' Medici, the Magnificent, in 
admiration of the talent of so great a man his portrait was placed 
in S. Maria del Fiore, carved in marble by Benedetto da Maiano, 
an excellent sculptor, together with the verses written below, made by 
that divine man, Messer Angelo Poliziano, to the end that those who 
should become excellent in any profession whatsoever might be able to 
cherish a hope of obtaining, from others, such memorials as these that 
Giotto deserved and obtained in liberal measure from his goodness : 

Ille ego sum, per quern pictura extincta revixit, 

Cui quam recta manus, tarn fuit et facilis. 
Naturae deerat nostrae quod defuit arti ; 

Plus licuit nulli pingere, nee melius. 
Miraris turrim egregiam sacro aere sonantem ? 

Haec quoque de modulo crevit ad astra meo. 
Denique sum Jottus, quid opus fuit ilia referre ? 

Hoc nomen longi carminis instar erit. 

And to the end that those who come after may be able to see drawings 
by the very hand of Giotto, and from these to recognize all the more the 
excellence of so great a man, in our aforesaid book there are some that 
are marvellous, sought out by me with no less diligence than labour and 




AMONG others who exercised themselves in the school of the sculptors 
Giovanni and Niccola of Pisa, Agostino and Agnolo, sculptors of Siena, 
of whom we are at present about to write the Life, became very excellent 
fOTjthpsejtimes. These, according to what I find, were born from a father 
and mother of Siena, and their forefathers were architects, seeing that 
in the year iiqo, under the rule of the three Consuls, they brought 
to perfection the Fontebranda, and afterwards, in the following year, 
under the same Consulate, the Customs-house of that city and other 
buildings. And in truth it is clear that very often the seeds of talent 
germinate in the houses where they have lain for some time, and throw 
out shoots which afterwards produce greater and better fruits than the 
first plants had done. Agostino and Agnolo, then, adding great better- 
ment to the manner of Giovanni and Niccola of Pisa, enriched the art 
with better' design and invention, as their works clearly demonstrate. 
It is said that the aforesaid Giovanni, returning from Naples to Pisa in 
the year 1284, stayed in Siena in order to make the design and founda- 
tion for the facade of the Duomo, wherein are the three principal doors, 
to the end that it might be all adorned very richly with marbles ; and 
that then Agostino, being no more than fifteen years of age, went to be 
with him in order to apply himself to sculpture, whereof he had learnt 
the first principles, being no less inclined to this art than to the matters 
of architecture. And so, under the teaching of Giovanni, by means of 
continual study he surpassed all his fellow-disciples in design, grace, and 
manner, so greatly that it was said by all that he was the right eye of 
his master. And because, between people who love each other, there is 
i- 97 13 


no gift, whether of nature, or of soul, or of fortune, that is mutually 
desired so much as excellence, which alone makes men great and noble, 
and what is more, most happy both in this life and in the other, therefore 
Agostino, seizing this occasion of assistance from Giovanni, drew his 
brother Agnolo into the same pursuit. Nor was it a great labour for him 
to do this, seeing that the intercourse of Agnolo with Agostino and with 
the other sculptors had already, as he saw the honour and profit that 
they were drawing from such an art, fired his mind with extreme eager- 
ness and desire to apply himself to sculpture ; nay, before Agostino 
had given a thought to this, Agnolo had wrought certain works in 

Agostino, then, being engaged in working with Giovanni on the 
marble panel of the high-altar in the Vescovado of Arezzo, whereof there 
has been mention above, contrived to bring there the said Agnolo, his 
brother, who acquitted himself in this work in such a manner that when 
it was finished he was found to have equalled Agostino in the excellence 
of his art. Which circumstance, becoming known to Giovanni, was the 
reason that after this work he made use of both one and the other in 
many other works of his that he wrought in Pistoia, in Pisa, and in other 
places. And seeing that he applied himself not only to sculpture but 
to architecture as well, no long time passed before, under the rule of the 
Nine in Siena, Agostino made the design of their Palace in Malborghetto, 
which was in the year 1308. In the making of this he acquired so great 
a name in his country, that, returning to Siena after the death of Giovanni,, 
they were made, both one and the other, architects to the State ; where- 
fore afterwards, in the year 13.17, there was made under their direction 
the front of the Duomo that faces towards the north, and in the year 
1321, with the design of the same men, there was begun the construction 
of the Porta Romana in that manner wherein it stands to-day, and it 
was finished in the year 1326 ; which gate was first called Porta S. 
Martino. They rebuilt, also, the Porta a Tun, which at first was called 
Porta di S. Agata all' Arco. In the same year, with the design of the 
same Agostino and Agnolo, there was begun the Church and Convent of 
S. Francesco, in the presence of Cardinal di Gaeta, Apostolic Legate. No 


long time after, by the action of some of the Tolomei who were living 
as exiles at Orvieto, Agostino and Agnolo were summoned to make 
certain sculptures for the work of S. Maria in that city ; wherefore, 
going there, they carved some prophets in marble which are now, in 
comparison with the other statues in that facade, the finest and best 
proportioned in that so greatly renowned work. 

Now it came to pass in the year 1326, as it has been said in his Life, 
that Giotto was called by means of Charles, Duke of Calabria, who was 
then staying in Florence, to Naples, in order to make some things for 
King Robert in S. Chiara and other places in that city ; wherefore 
Giotto, passing by way of Orvieto on his way to Naples, in order to see the 
works that had been made and were still being made there by so many 
men, wished to see everything minutely. And because the prophets 
of Agostino and Agnolo of Siena pleased him more than all the other 
sculptures, it came about therefore that Giotto not only commended 
them and held them, much to their contentment, among his friends, but 
also presented them to Piero Saccone da Pietramala as the best of all 
the sculptors then living, for the making of the tomb of Bishop Guido, 
Lord and Bishop of Arezzo, which has been mentioned in the Life of 
Giotto himself. And so then Giotto having seen in Orvieto the works of 
many sculptors and having judged the best to be those of Agostino and 
Agnolo of Siena, this was the reason that the said tomb was given to 
them to make in that manner, however, wherein he had designed it, 
and according to the model which he himself had sent to the said Piero 
Saccone. Agostino and Agnolo finished this tomb in the space of three 
years, executing it with much diligence, and built it into the Church 
of the Vescovado of Arezzo, in the Chapel of the Sacrament. Over 
the sarcophagus, which rests on certain great consoles carved more than 
passing well, there is stretched the body of that Bishop in marble, and 
at the sides are some angels that are drawing back certain curtains very 
gracefully. Besides this, there are carved in half-relief, in compartments, 
twelve scenes from the life and actions of that Bishop, with an infinite 
number of little figures. I will not grudge the labour of describing the] 
contents of these scenes, to the end that it may be seen with what great j 


patience they were wrought, and how zealously these sculptors sought 
the good manner. 

In the first is the scene when, assisted by the Ghibelline party of 
Milan, which sent him money and four hundred masons, he is rebuilding 
the walls of Arezzo all anew, making them much longer than they were 
and giving them the form of a galley. In the second is the taking of 
Lucignano di Valdichiana. In the third, that of Chiusi. In the fourth, 
that of Fronzoli, then a strong castle above Poppi, and held by the sons 
of the Count of Battifolle. The fifth is when the Castle of Rondine, 
after having been many months besieged by the Aretines, is surrendering 
finally to the Bishop. In the sixth is the taking of the Castle of Bucine 
in Valdarno. The seventh is when he is taking by storm the fortress 
of Caprese, which belonged to the Count of Romena, after having main- 
tained the siege for several months. In the eighth the Bishop is having 
the Castle of Laterino pulled down and the hill that rises above it 
cut into the shape of a cross, to the end that it may no longer be possible 
to build a fortress thereon. In the ninth he is seen destroying Monte 
Sansovino and putting it to fire and flames, chasing from it all the 
inhabitants. In the eleventh is his coronation, wherein are to be seen 
many beautiful costumes of soldiers on foot and on horseback, and of 
other people. In the twelfth, finally, his men are seen carrying him from 
Montenero, where he fell sick, to Massa, and thence afterwards, now 
dead, to Arezzo. Round this tomb, also, in many places, are the 
Ghibelline insignia, and the arms of the Bishop, which are six square 
stones "or," on a field " azure," in the same ordering as are the six 
balls in the arms of the Medici ; which arms of the house of the Bishop 
were described by Frate Guittone, chevalier and poet of Arezzo, when 
he said, writing of the site of the Castle of Pietramala, whence that family 

had its origin : 

Dove si scontra il Giglion con la Chiassa 

Ivi furono i miei antecessori, 

Che in campo azurro d'or portan sei sassa. "1 

(Agnolo and Agostino of Siena, then, executed this work with better 
art and invention and with more diligence than there had been shown 


in any work executed in their times. And in truth they deserve nothing 
but infinite praise, having made therein so many figures and so great a 
variety of sites, places, towers, horses, men, and other things, that it is 
indeed a marvel. And although this tomb was in great part destroyed 
by the Frenchmen of the Duke of Anjou, who sacked the greater part of 
that city in order to take revenge on the hostile party for certain affronts 
received, none the less it shows that it was wrought with very good 
judgment by the said Agostino and Agnolo, who cut on it, in rather 
large letters, these words : 


After this, in the year 1329, they wrought an altar-panel of marble 
for the Church of S. Francesco at Bologna, in a passing good manner ; 
and therein, besides the carved ornamentation, which is very rich, they 
made a Christ who is crowning Our Lady, and on each side three similar 
figures S. Francis, S. James, S. Dominic, S. Anthony of Padua, S. 
Petronius, and S. John the Evangelist, with figures one braccio and a 
half in height. Below each of the said figures is carved a scene in 
low-relief from the life of the Saint that is above ; and in all these 
scenes is an infinite number of half-length figures, which make a rich 
and beautiful adornment, according to the custom of those times. It 
is seen clearly that Agostino and Agnolo endured very great fatigue in 
this work, and that they put into it all diligence and study in order to 
make it, as it truly was, a work worthy of praise ; and although they 
are half eaten away, yet there are to be read thereon their names and 
the date, by means of which, it being known when they began it, it isj 
seen that they laboured eight whole years in completing it. It is true, : 
indeed, that in that same time they wrought many other small works in ! 
diverse places and for various people. 

Now, while they were working in Bologna, that city, by the media- 
tion of a Legate of the Pope, gave herself absolutely over to the Church ; 
and the Pope, in return, promised that he would go to settle with his 
Court in Bologna, saying that he wished to erect a castle there, or truly 
a fortress, for his own security. This being conceded to him by the 


Bolognese, it was immediately built under the direction and design of 
Agostino and Agnolo, but it had a very short life, for the reason that the 
Bolognese, having found that the many promises of the Pope were wholly 
vain, pulled down and destroyed the said fortress, with much greater 
promptness than it had been built. 

It is said that while these two sculptors were staying in Bologna 
the Po issued in furious flood from its bed and laid waste the whole 
country round for many miles, doing incredible damage to the terri- 
tory of Mantua and Ferrara and slaying more than ten thousand 
persons ; and that they, being called on for this reason as ingenious 
and able men, found a way to put this terrible river back into its 
course, confining it with dykes and other most useful barriers ; which 
was greatly to their credit and profit, because, besides acquiring fame 
thereby, they were recompensed by the Lords of Mantua and by the 
D' Este family with most honourable rewards. 

After this they returned to Siena, and in the year 1338, with their 
direction and design, there was made the new Church of S. Maria, near 
the Duomo Vecchio, towards Piazza Manetti ; and no long time after, 
the people of Siena, remaining much satisfied with all the works that 
these men were making, determined with an occasion so apt to put 
into effect that which had been discussed many times, but up to then 
in vain namely, the making of a public fountain on the principal 
square, opposite the Palagio della Signoria. Wherefore, this being 
entrusted to Agostino and Agnolo, they brought the waters of that 
fountain through pipes of lead and of clay, which was very difficult, 
and it began to play in the year 1343, on the first day of June, with 
much pleasure and contentment to' the whole city, which remained 
thereby much indebted to the talent of these its two citizens. 

About the same time there was made the Great Council Chamberjn 
the Municipal Palace ; and so too, with the direction and design of the 
same men, there was brought to its completion the tower of the said 
Palace, in the year 1344, and there were placed thereon two great bells, 
whereof they had one from Grosseto and the other was made in Siena. 
Finally, while Agnolo chanced to be in the city of Assisi, where 


he made a chapel and a tomb in marble in the lower Church of 
S. Francesco for a brother of Napoleone Orsino, a Cardinal and a friar 
of S. Francis, who had died in that place Agostino, who had remained in 
Siena in the service of the State, died while he was busy making the 
design for the adornments of the said fountain in the square, and was 
honourably buried in the Duomo. I have not yet found, and cannot 
therefore say anything about the matter, either how or when Agnolo 
died, or even any other works of importance by their hand ; and therefore 
let this be the end of their Life. 


Now, seeing that it would be without doubt an error, in following 
the order of time, not to make mention of some who, although they have 
not wrought so many works that it is possible to write their whole life, 
have none the less contributed betterment and beauty to art and to the 
world, I will say, taking occasion from that which has been said above 
about the Vescovado of Arezzo and about the Pieve, that Pietrp 
and Paolo, goldsmiths of Arezzo, who learnt design from Agnolo and 
Agostino of Siena, were the first who wrought large works of some 
excellence with the chasing-tool, since, for an arch-priest of the said 
Pieve of Arezzo, they executed a head in silver as large as life, wherein 
was placed the head of S. Donatus, Bishop and Protector of that city ; 
which work was worthy of nothing but praise, both because they made 
therein some very beautiful figures in enamel and other ornaments, and 
because it was one of the first works, as it has been said, that were 
wrought with the chasing-tool. 

About the same time, the Guild of Calimara in Florence caused 
Maestro Gone, an excellent goldsmith, to make the greater part, if not 
the whole, of the silver altar of S. Giovanni Battista, wherein -are 
many scenes from the life of that Saint embossed on a plate of silver, 
with passing good figures in half-relief ; which work, both by reason of 
its size and of its being ' something new, was held marvellous by all 
who saw it. In the year 1330, after the body of S. Zanobi had been 
found beneath the vaults of S. Reparata, the same Maestro Cione made 
a head of silver to contain a piece of the head of that Saint, which is 
still preserved to-day in the same head of silver and is borne in 


processions ; which head was then held something very beautiful and 
gave a great name to its craftsman, who died no long time after, rich 
and in great repute. 

Maestro Cione left many disciples, and among others Forzore di 
Spinello of Arezzo, who wrought every kind of chasing very well but 
was particularly excellent in making scenes in silver enamelled over fire, 
to which witness is borne by a mitre with most beautiful adornments in 
enamel, and a very beautiful pastoral staff of silver, which are in the 
Vescovado of Arezzo. The same man wrought for Cardinal Galeotto da 
Pietramala many works in silver that remained after his death with the 
friars of La Vernia, where he wished to be buried. There, besides the 
wall that was erected in that place by Count Orlando, Lord of Chiusi, a 
small town below La Vernia, the Cardinal built the church, together 
with many rooms in the convent and throughout that whole place, 
without putting his arms there or leaving any other memorial. A disciple 
of Maestro Cione, also, was Leonardo di Ser Giovanni, a Florentine, who 
wrought many works in chasing and soldering, with better design than 
the others before him had shown, and in particular the altar and panel 
of silver in S. Jacopo at Pistoia ; in which work, besides the scenes, 
which are numerous, there was much praise given to a figure in the round 
that he made in the middle, representing S. James, more than one braccio 
in height, and wrought with so great finish that it appears rather to have 
been made by casting than by chasing. This figure is set in the midst 
of the said scenes on the panel of the altar, round which is a frieze of 
letters in enamel, that run thus : 





Now, returning to Agostino and Agnolo : they had many disciples 
who, after their death, wrought many works of architecture and of 
sculpture in Lombardy and other parts of Italy, and among others Maestro 
Jacopo Lanfrani of Venice, who founded S. Francesco of Imola and 
wrought the principal door in sculpture, where he carved his name and 
the date, which was the year 1343. And at Bologna, in the Church of 


S. Domenico, the same Maestro Jacopo made a tomb in marble for 
Giovanni Andrea Calduino, Doctor of Laws and Secretary to Pope 
Clement VI ; and another, also in marble and in the said church, very 
well wrought, for Taddeo Peppoli, Conservator of the people and of 
Justice in Bologna. And in the same year, which was the year 1347, 
or a little before, this tomb being finished, Maestro Jacopo went to his 
native city of Venice and founded the Church of S. Antonio, which was 
previously of wood, at the request of a Florentine Abbot of the ancient 
family of the Abati, the Doge being Messer Andrea Dandolo. This 
church was finished in the year 1349. Jacobello and Pietro Paolo, also, 
Venetians and disciples of Agostino and Agnolo, made a tomb in marble 
for Messer Giovanni da Lignano, Doctor of Laws, in the year 1383, in the 
Church of S. Domenico at Bologna. 

All these and many other sculptors went on for a long space of time 
following one and the same method, in a manner that with it they filled 
all Italy. It is believed, also, that the Pesarese, who, besides many other 
works, built the Church of S. Domenico in his native city, and made in 
sculpture the marble door with the three figures in the round, God 
the Father, S. John the Baptist, and S. Mark, was a disciple of Agostino 
and Agnolo ; and to this the manner bears witness. This work was 
finished in the year 1385. But, seeing that it would take too long if I 
were to make mention minutely of the works that were wrought by ; 
many masters of those times in that manner, I wish that this, that I 
have said of them thus in general, should suffice me for the present, and 
above all because there is not any benefit of much account for our 
arts from such works. Of the aforesaid it has seemed to me proper to 
make mention, because, if they do not deserve to be discussed at length, 
yet, on the other hand, they were not such as to need to be passed over , 
completely in silence. 





STEFANO, painter of Florence and disciple of Giotto, was so excellent, 
that he not only surpassed all the others who had laboured in the art 
before him, but outstripped his own master himself by so much that he 
was held, and deservedly, the best of all the painters who had lived up 
to that time, as his works clearly demonstrate. He painted in fresco 
the Madonna of the Campo Santo in Pisa, which is no little better in 
design and in colouring than the work of Giotto ; and in Florence, in the 
cloister of S. Spirito, he painted three little arches in fresco. In the first 
of these, wherein is the Transfiguration of Christ with Moses and Elias, 
imagining how great must have been the splendour that dazzled them, he 
fashioned the three Disciples with extraordinary and beautiful attitudes, 
and enveloped in draperies in a manner that it is seen that he went on 
trying to do something that had never been done before namely, to 
suggest the nude form of the figures below new kinds of folds, which, as 
I have said, had not been thought of even by Giotto. Under this arch, 
wherein he made a Christ delivering the woman possessed, he drew a 
building in perspective, perfectly and in a manner then little known, 
executing it in good form and with better knowledge ; and in it, working 
with very great judgment in modern fashion, he showed so great art and 
so great invention and proportion in the columns, in the doors, in the 
windows, and in the cornices, and so great diversity from the other 
masters in his method of working, that it appears that there was begin- 
ning to be seen a certain glimmer of the good and perfect manner of the 
moderns. He invented, among other ingenious ideas, a flight of steps 
very difficult to make, which, both in painting and built out in 



relief wrought in either way, in fact is so rich in design and variety, 
and so useful and convenient in invention, that the elder Lorenzo 
de' Medici, the Magnificent, availed himself of it in making the outer 
staircase of the Palace of Poggio a Cajano, now the principal villa of 
the most Illustrious Lord Duke. In the other little arch is a story of 
Christ when he is delivering S. Peter from shipwreck, so well done that 
one seems to hear the voice of Peter saying : " Domine, salva nos, peri- 
mus." This work is judged much more beautiful than the others, because, 
besides the softness of the draperies, there are seen sweetness in the air of 
the heads and terror in the perils of the sea, and because the Apostles, 
shaken by diverse motions and by phantoms of the sea, have been repre- 
sented in attitudes very appropriate and all most beautiful. And although 
time has eaten away in part the labours that Stefano put into this work, 
it may be seen, although but dimly, that the Apostles are defending them- 
selves from the fury of the winds and from the waves of the sea with 
great energy ; which work, being very highly praised among the moderns, 
must have certainly appeared a miracle in all Tuscany in the time of him 
who wrought it. After this he painted a S. Thomas Aquinas beside a door 
in the first cloister of S. Maria Novella, where he also made a Crucifix, 
which was afterwards executed in a bad manner by other painters in 
restoring it. In like manner he left a chapel in the church begun and 
not finished, which has been much eaten away by time, wherein the angels 
are seen raining down in diverse forms by reason of the pride of Lucifer ; 
where it is to be noticed that the figures, with the arms, trunks, and 
legs foreshortened much better than any foreshortenings that had been 
made before, give us to know that Stefano began to understand and to 
demonstrate in part the difficulties that those men had to reduce to 
excellence, who afterwards, with greater science, showed them to us, 
as they have done, in perfection ; wherefore the surname of " The Ape 
of Nature " was given him by the other craftsmen. 

Next, being summoned to Milan, Stefano made a beginning for 
many works for Matteo Visconti, but was not able to finish them, because, 
having fallen sick by reason of the change of air, he was forced to return 


to Florence. There, having regained his health, he made in fresco, in 
the tramezzo* of the Church of S. Croce, in the Chapel of the Asini, 
the story of the martyrdom of S. Mark, when he was dragged to death, 
with many figures that have something of the good. Being then 
summoned to Rome by reason of having been a disciple of Giotto, he 
made some stories of Christ in S. Pietro, in the principal chapel wherein 
is the altar of the said Saint, between the windows that are in the great 
choir-niche, with so much diligence that it is seen that he approached ! 
closely to the modern manner, surpassing his master Giotto considerably j 
in draughtsmanship and in other respects. 

After this, on a pillar on the left-hand side of the principal chapel 
of the Araceli, he made a S. Louis in fresco, which is much praised, 
because it has in it a vivacity never displayed up to that time even by 
Giotto. And in truth Stefano had great facility in draughtsmanship, 
as can be seen in our said book in a drawing by his hand, wherein is drawn 
the Transfiguration (which he painted in the cloister of S. Spirito), in such 
a manner that in my judgment he drew much better than Giotto. 

Having gone, next, to Assisi, he began in fresco a scene of the Celestial 
Glory in the niche of the principal chapel of the lower Church of S. 
Francesco, where the choir is ; and although he did not finish it, it is 
seen from what he did that he used so great diligence that no greater 
could be desired. In this work there is seen begun a circle of saints, both 
male and female, with so beautiful variety in the faces of the young, the 
men of middle age, and the old, that nothing better could be desired. 
And there is seen a very sweet manner in these blessed spirits, with such 
great harmony that it appears almost impossible that it could have been 
done in those times by Stefano, who indeed did do it ; although there is/ 
nothing of the figures in this circle finished save the heads, over which 
is a choir of angels who are hovering playfully about in various attitudes, 
appropriately carrying theological symbols in their hands, and all 
turned towards a Christ on the Cross, who is in the middle of this work, 
over the head of a S. Francis, who is in the midst of an infinity of saints. 

* See note on p. 57. 


Besides this, in the border of the whole work, he made some angels, each 
of whom is holding in his hand one of those Churches that S. John the 
Evangelist described in the Apocalypse ; and these angels are executed 
with so much grace that I am amazed how in that age there was_to be 
found one who knew so much. Stefano began this work with a view 
to bringing it to the fullest perfection, and he would have succeeded, but 
he was forced to leave it imperfect and to return to Florence by some 
important affairs of his own. 

During that time, then, that he stayed for this purpose in Florence, 
in order to lose no time he painted for the Gianfigliazzi, by the side of 
the Arno, between their houses and the Ponte alia Carraja, a little shrine 
on a corner that is there, wherein he depicted a Madonna sewing, to whom 
a boy dressed and seated is handing a bird, with such diligence that the 
work, small as it is, deserves to be praised no less than do the works 
that he wrought on a larger and more masterly scale. 

This shrine finished and his affairs dispatched, being called to Pistoia 
by its Lords in the year 1346, he was made to paint the Chapel of 
S. Jacopo, on the vaulting of which he made a God the Father with some 
Apostles, and on the walls the stories of that Saint, and in particular 
when his mother, wife of Zebedee, asks Jesus Christ to consent to place 
her two sons, one on His right hand and the other on His left hand, in 
the Kingdom of the Father. Close to this is the beheading of the said 
Saint, a very beautiful work. 

It is reputed that Maso, called Giottino, of whom there will be 
mention below, was the son of this Stefano ; and although many, by 
reason of the suggestiveness of the name, hold him the son of Giotto, I, 
by reason of certain records that I have seen, and of certain memoirs 
of good authority written by Lorenzo Ghiberti and by Domenico del 
Ghirlandajo, hold it as true that he was rather the son of Stefano than of 
Giotto. ; Be this as it may, returning to Stefano, it can be credited to 
him that he did more than anyone after Giotto to improve painting, for, 
besides being more varied in invention, he was also more harmonious, 
more mellow, and better blended in colouring than all the others ; and 


above all he had no peer in diligence. And as for those foreshortenings 
that he made, although, as I have said, he showed a faulty manner in 
them by reason of the difficulty of making them, none the less he who 
is the pioneer in the difficulties of any exercise deserves a much greater 
name than those who follow with a somewhat more ordered and regular 
manner. Truly great, therefore, is the debt that should be acknowledged 
to Stefano, because he who walks in darkness and gives heart to others, 
by showing them the way, brings it about that its difficult steps are made 
easy, so that with lapse of time men leave the false road and attain to 
the desired goal. At Perugia, too, in the Church of S. Domenico, he 
began in fresco the Chapel of S. Caterina, which remained unfinished. 

There lived about the same time as Stefano a man of passing good 
repute, Ugolino, painter of Siena, very much his friend, who painted many 
panels and chapels throughout all Italy, although he held ever in great 
part to the Greek manner, as one who, grown old therein, had wished by 
reason of a certain obstinacy in himself to hold rather to the manner. 
of Cimabue than to that of Giotto, which was so greatly revered. By/ 
the hand of Ugolino, then, is the panel of the high-altar of S. Croce, 
on a ground all of gold, and also a panel which stood many years on 
the high-altar of S. Maria Novella and is to-day in the Chapter-house, 
where the Spanish nation every year holds most solemn festival on the 
day of S. James, with other offices and funeral ceremonies of its own. 
Besides these, he wrought many other works with good skill, without 
departing, however, from the manner of his master. The same man 
made, o_n a brick-pier in the Loggia that Lapo had built on the Piazza 
d' Orsanmichele, that Madonna which worked so many miracles, not many 
years later, that the Loggia was for a long time full of images, and is still 
held in the greatest veneration. Finally, in the Chapel of Messer Ridolfo 
de' Bardi, which is in S. Croce, where Giotto painted the life of S. Francis, 
he painted a Crucifix in distemper on the altar-panel, with a Magdalene 
and a S. John weeping, and two friars, one on either side. Ugolino 
passed away from this life, being old, in the year 1349, an( ^ was buried 
with honour in Siena, his native city. 

i- 15 


But returning to Stefano, of whom they say that he was also a good 
architect, which is proved by what has been said above, he died, so it is 
said, in the year when there began the jubilee, 1350, at the age of forty- 
nine, and was laid to rest in the tomb of his fathers, in S. Spirito, 
with this epitaph : 






fc Jl 
z ?: 


<! S 

z 9 

X, i i 


< 3 
'S R 





PIETRO LAURATI, an excellent painter of Siena, proved in his life how 
great is the contentment of the truly able, who feel that their works are 
prized both at home and abroad, and who see themselves sought after 
by all men, for the reason that in the course of his life he was sent for 
and held dear throughout all Tuscany, having first become known 
through the scenes that he painted in fresco for the Scala, a hospital in 
Siena, wherein he imitated in such wise the manner of Giotto, then 
spread throughout all Tuscany, that it was believed with great reason 
that he was destined, as afterwards came to pass, to become a better 
master than Cimabue and Giotto and the others had been ; for the figures 
that represent the Virgin ascending the steps of the Temple, accompanied 
by Joachim and Anna, and received by the priest, and then in the 
Marriage, are so beautifully adorned, so well draped, and so simply 
wrapped in their garments, that they show majesty in the air of the 
heads, and a most beautiful manner in their bearing. By reason of this 
work, which was the first introduction into Siena of the good method of 
painting, giving light to the many beautiful intellects which have flourished 
in that city in every age, Pietro was invited to Monte Oliveto di Chiusuri, 
where he painted a panel in distemper that is placed to-day in the portico 
below the church. In Florence, next, opposite to the left-hand door of 
the Church of S. Spirito, on the corner where to-day there is a butcher, he 
painted a shrine which, by reason of the softness of the heads and of 
the sweetness that is seen in it, deserves the highest praise from every 
discerning craftsman. 

Going from Florence to Pisa, he wrought in the Gampo Santo, on the 



wall that is beside the principal door, all the lives of the Holy Fathers, 
with expressions so lively and attitudes so beautiful that he equalled 
Giotto and gained thereby very great praise, having expressed in certain 
heads, both with drawing and with colour, all that vivacity that the 
manner of those times was able to show. From Pisa he went to Pistoia, 
where he made a Madonna with some angels round her, very well 
grouped, on a panel in distemper, for the Church of S. Francesco ; and 
in the predella that ran below this panel, in certain scenes, he made 
certain little figures so lively and so vivid that in those times it was 
something marvellous ; wherefore, since they satisfied himself no less 
than others, he thought fit to place thereon his name, with these words : 


Pietro was summoned, next, in the year 13$$, by Messer Guglielmo, 
arch-priest, and by the Wardens of Works of the Pieve of Arezzo, 
who were then Margarito Boschi and others ; and in that church, built 
long before with better design and manner than any other that had 
been made in Tuscany up to that time, and all adorned with squared stone 
and with carvings, as it has been said, by the hand of Margaritone, he 
painted in fresco the apse and the whole great niche of the chapel of the 
high-altar, making there twelve scenes from the life of Our Lady with 
figures large as life, beginning with the expulsion of Joachim from the 
Temple, up to the Nativity of Jesus Christ. In these scenes, wrought 
in fresco, may be recognized almost the same inventions (the lineaments, 
the air of the heads, and the attitudes of the figures) which had been 
characteristic of and peculiar to Giotto, his master. And although all 
this work is beautiful, what he painted on the vaulting of this niche 
is without doubt better than all the rest, for in representing the 
Madonna ascending into Heaven, besides making the Apostles each 
four braccia high, wherein he showed greatness of spirit and was the 
first to try to give grandness to the manner, he gave so beautiful an air 
to the heads and so great loveliness to the vestments that in those times 
nothing more could have been desired. Likewise, in the faces of a choir 
of angels who are flying in the air round the Madonna, dancing with 
graceful movements, and appearing to sing, he painted a gladness truly 

s ( 


angelic and divine, above all because he made the angels sounding diverse 
instruments, with their eyes all fixed and intent on another choir of 
angels, who, supported by a cloud in the form of an almond, are 
bearing the Madonna to Heaven, with beautiful attitudes and all sur- 
rounded by rainbows. This work, seeing that it rightly gave pleasure, 
was the reason that he was commissioned to make in distemper 
the panel for the high - altar of the aforesaid Pieve ; wherein, in 
five parts, with figures as far as the knees and large as life, he made 
Our Lady with the Child in her arms, and S. John the Baptist and 
S. Matthew on the one side, and on the other the Evangelist and 
S. Donatus, with many little figures in the predella and in the border of 
the panel above, all truly beautiful and executed in very good manner. 
;This panel, after I had rebuilt the high-altar of the aforesaid Pieve / 
^completely anew, at my own expense and with my own hand, was set , 
up over the altar of S. Cristofano at the foot of the church. Nor do 
I wish to grudge the labour of saying in this place, with this occasion 
and not wide of the subject, that I, moved by Christian piety and by 
the affection that I bear towards this venerable and ancient collegiate 
church, and for the reason that in it, in my earliest childhood, I learnt 
my first lessons, and that it contains the remains of my fathers : moved, 
I say, by these reasons, and by it appearing to me that it was wellnigh 
deserted, I have restored it in a manner that it can be said that it has 
returned from death to life ; for besides changing it from a dark to a 
well-lighted church by increasing the windows that were there before 
and by making others, I have also removed the choir, which, being in 
front, used to occupy a great part of the church, and to the great satis- 
faction of those reverend canons I have placed it behind the high-altar. 
This new altar, standing by itself, has on the panel in front a Christ 
calling Peter and Andrew from their nets, and on the side towards the 
choir it has, on another panel, S. George slaying the Dragon. On the 
sides are four pictures, and in each of these are two saints as large as 
life. Then above, and below in the predella, there is an infinity of other 
figures, which, for brevity's sake, are not enumerated. The ornamental 
frame of this altar is thirteen braccia high, and the predella is two braccia 


high. And because within it is hollow, and one ascends to it by a staircase 
through an iron wicket very conveniently arranged, there are preserved 
in it many venerable relics, which can be seen from without through 
two gratings that are in the front part ; and among others there is the 
head of S. Donatus, Bishop and Protector of that city, and in a coffer 
of variegated marble, three braccia long, which I have had restored, are the 
bones of four Saints. And the predella of the altar, which surrounds 
it all right round in due proportion, has in front of it the tabernacle, or 
rather ciborium, of the Sacrament, made of carved wood and all gilt, about 
three braccia high ; which tabernacle is quite round and can be seen as 
well from the side of the choir as from in front. And because I have 
spared no labour and no expense, considering myself bound to act thus 
in honour of God, this work, in my judgment, has in all those ornaments 
of gold, of carvings, of paintings, of marbles, of travertines, of variegated 
marbles, of porphyries, and of other stones, the best that could be got 
together by me in that placej 

But returning now to Pietro Laurati ; that panel finished whereof 
there has been talk above, he wrought in S. Pietro at Rome many 
works which were afterwards destroyed in making the new building of 
S. Pietro. He also wrought some works in Cortona and in Arezzo, 
besides those that have been mentioned, and some others in the Church 
of S. Fiora e Lucilla, a monastery of Black Friars, and in particular, 
in a chapel, a S. Thomas who is putting his hand on the wound in the 
breast of Christ. 

A disciple of Pietro was Bartolomrneo Bologhini of Siena, who 
wrought many panels in Siena and other places in Italy, and in 
Florence there is one by his hand on the altar of the Chapel of S. Silvestro 
in S. Croce. The pictures of these men date about the year of our 
salvation 1350 ; and in my book, so many times cited, there is seen a 
drawing by the hand of Pietro, wherein a shoemaker who is sewing, with 
simple but very natural lineaments, shows very great expression and 
the characteristic manner of Pietro, the portrait of whom, by the hand of 
Bartolomrneo Bologhini, was in a panel in Siena, when I copied it from the 
original in the manner that is seen above. 






THE art of painting never flourished at any time without the sculptors 
also pursuing their exercise with excellence, and to this the works of all 
ages bear witness for the close observer, because these two arts are truly 
sisters, born at one and the same time, and fostered and governed by 
one and the same soul. This is seen in Andrea Pisano, who, practising / 
sculpture in the time of Giotto, made so great improvement in this art, 
that both in practice and in theory he was esteemed the greatest man that 
the Tuscans had had up to his times in this profession, and above all in 
casting in bronze. Wherefore his works were honoured and rewarded 
in such a manner by all who knew him, and above all by the Florentines, 
that it was no hardship to him to change country, relatives, property 
and friends. He received much assistance from the difficulties experi- 
enced in sculpture by the masters who had lived before him, whose 
sculptures were so uncouth and worthless that whosoever saw them in 
comparison with those of this man judged the last a miracle. And 
that these early works were rude, witness is borne, as it has been said 
elsewhere, by some that are over the principal door of S. Paolo in 
Florence and some in stone that are in the Church of Ognissanti, which 
are so made that they move those who view them rather to laughter 
than to any marvel or pleasure. And it is certain that the art of 
sculpture can recover itself much better, in the event of the essence of 
statuary being lost (since men have the living and the natural model, 
which is wholly rounded, as that art requires), than can the art of 
painting ; it being not so easy and simple to recover the beautiful outlines 
and the good manner, in order to bring the art to the light, for these 
are the elements that produce majesty, beauty, grace and adornment 



in the works that the painters make. In one respect fortune was favour- 
able to the labours of Andrea, because there had been brought to Pisa, 
as it has been said elsewhere, by means of the many victories that the 
Pisans had at sea, many antiquities and sarcophagi that are still round 
the Duomo and the Campo Santo, and these brought him such great 
assistance and gave him such great light as could not be obtained by 
Giotto, for the reason that the ancient paintings had not been preserved 
as much as the sculptures. And although statues are often destroyed 
by fires and by the ruin and fury of war, and buried or transported to 
diverse places, nevertheless it is easy for the experienced to recognize 
the difference in the manner of all countries ; as, for example, the Egyptian 
is slender and lengthy in its figures, the Greek is scientific and shows 
much study in the nudes, while the heads have almost all the same 
expression, and the most ancient Tuscan is laboured in the hair and 
somewhat uncouth. That of the Romans (I call Romans, for the most 
part, those who, after the subjugation of Greece, betook themselves to 
Rome, whither all that there was of the good and of the beautiful in 
the world was carried) that, I say, is so beautiful, by reason of the 
expressions, the attitudes, and the movements both of the nude and of 
the draped figures, that it may be said that they wrested the beautiful 
from all the other provinces and moulded it into one single manner, to the 
end that it might be, as it is, the best nay, the most divine of all. 

All these beautiful manners and arts being spent in the time of 
Andrea, that alone was in use which had been brought by the Goths and 
by the uncivilized Greeks into Tuscany. Wherefore he, having studied 
the new method of design of Giotto and those few antiquities that were 
known to him, refined in great part the grossness of so miserable a manner 
with his judgment, in such wise that he began to work better and to give 
much greater beauty to statuary than any other had yet done in that art 
up to his times. Therefore, his genius and his good skill and dexterity 
becoming known, he was assisted by many in his country, and while 
still young he was commissioned to make for S. Maria a Ppnte some 
little figures in marble, which brought him so good a name that he 
was sought out with very great insistence to come to work in Florence 


for the Office of Works of S. Maria del Fiore, which, after a beginning 
had been made with the facade containing the three doors, was suffer- 
ing from a dearth of masters to make the scenes that Giotto had designed 
for the beginning of the said fabric. Andrea, then, betook himself to 
Florence for the service of the said Office of Works. And because the 
Florentines desired at that time to gain the friendship and love of Pope 
Boniface VIII, who was then Supreme Pontiff of the Church of God, 
they wished that, before anything else, Andrea should make a portrait 
in marble of the said Pontiff, from the life. Wherefore, putting his 
hand to this work, he did not rest until he had finished the figure of 
the Pope, with a S. Peter and a S. Paul who are one on either side of 
him ; which three figures were placed in the facade of S. Maria del Fiore, 
where they still are. Andrea then made certain little figures of prophets 
for the middle door of the said church, in some shrines or rather niches, 
from which it is seen that he had brought great betterment to the art, 
and that he was in advance, both in excellence and design, of all those who 
had worked up to then on the said fabric. Wherefore it was resolved 
that all the works of importance should be given to him to do, and 
not to others ; and so, no long time after, he was commissioned to make 
the four statues of the principal Doctors of the Church, S. Jerome, 
S. Ambrose, S. Augustine, and S. Gregory. And these being finished 
and acquiring for him favour and fame with the Wardens of Works 
nay, with the whole city he was commissioned to make two other 
figures in marble of the same size, which were S. Stephen and S. Laurence, 
now standing in the said fagade of S. Maria del Fiore, at the outer- 
most corners. By the hand of Andrea, likewise, is the Madonna in 
marble, three braccia and a half high, with the Child in her arms, which 
stands on the altar of the little Church of the Company of the Miseri- 
cordia, on the Piazza di S. Giovanni in Florence ; which was a work 
much praised in those times, and above all because he accompanied it 
with two angels, one on either side, each two braccia and a half high. 
Round this work there has been made in our own day a frame of wood, 
very well wrought by Maestro Antonio, called II Carota ; and below, 
a predella full of most beautiful figures coloured in oil by Ridolfo, son 


of Domenico Ghirlandaj o. In like manner, that half-length Madonna in 
marble that is over the side door of the same Misericordia, in the facade 
of the Cialdonai, is by the hand of Andrea, and it was much praised, 
because he imitated therein the good ancient manner, contrary to his 
wont, which was ever far distant from it, as some drawings testify that 
are in our book, wrought by his hand, wherein are drawn all the stories 
of the Apocalypse. 

Now, seeing that Andrea had applied himself in his youth to the 
study of architecture, there came occasion for him to be employed in 
this by the Commune of Florence ; for Arnolfo being dead and Giotto 
absent, he was commissioned to make the design of the Castle of 
Scarperia, which is in the Mugello, at the foot of the mountains. fSome 
say, although I would not indeed vouch for it as true, that Andrea stayed 
a year in Venice, and there wrought, in sculpture, some little figures in 
marble that are in the facade of S. Marco, and that at the time of 
Messer Piero Gradenigo, Doge of that Republic, he made the design of 
the Arsenal ; but seeing that I know nothing about it save that which 
I find to have been written by some without authority, I leave each one to 
think in his own way about this matter. / Andrea having returned from 
Venice to Florence, the city, fearful of the coming of the Emperor, 
caused a part of the walls to be raised with lime post-haste to the height 
of eight braccia, employing in this Andrea, in that portion that is 
between San Gallo and the Porta al Prato ; and in other places he made 
bastions, stockades, and other ramparts of earth and of wood, very 

Now because, three years before, he had shown himself to his own 
great credit to be an able man in the casting of bronze, having sent to 
the Pope in Avignon, by means of Giotto, his very great friend, who was 
then staying at that Court, a very beautiful cross cast in bronze, he 
was commissioned to complete in bronze one of the doors of the Church of 
S. Giovanni, for which Giotto had already made a very beautiful design ; 
this was given to him, I say, to complete, by reason of his having been 
judged, among so many who had worked up to then, the most able, 
the most practised and the most judicious master not only of Tuscany 


but of all Italy. Wherefore, putting his hand to this, with a mind 
determined not to consent to spare either time, or labour, or diligence in 
executing a work of so great importance, fortune was so propitious to 
him in the casting, for those times when the secrets were not known 
that are known to-day, that within the space of twenty-two years he 
brought it to that perfection which is seen ; and what is more, he also 
made during that same time not only the shrine of the high-altar of 
S. Giovanni, with two angels, one on either side of it, that were held 
something very beautiful, but also, after the design of Giotto, those little 
figures in marble that act as adornment for the door of the Campanile 
of S. Maria del Fiore, and round the same Campanile, in certain oval 
spaces, the seven planets, the seven virtues, and the seven works of 
mercy, little figures in half-relief that were then much praised. He 
also made during the same time the three figures, each four braccia 
high, that were set up in the niches of the said Campanile, beneath the 
windows that face the spot where the Orphans now are that is, towards 
the south ; which figures were thought at that time more than passing 
good. But to return to where I left off : I say that in the said bronze door 
are little scenes in low relief of the life of S. John the Baptist, that is, 
from his birth up to his death, wrought happily and with much diligence. 
And although it seems to many that in these scenes there do not 
appear that beautiful design and that great art which are now put into 
figures, yet Andrea deserves nothing but the greatest praise, in that he was 
the first to put his hand to the complete execution of such a work, which 
afterwards enabled the others who lived after him to make whatever! 
of the beautiful, of the difficult and of the good is to be seen at the 
present day in the other two doors and in the external ornaments. This 
work was placed in the middle door of that church, and stood there until 
the time when Lorenzo Ghiberti made that one which is there at the 
present day ; for then it was removed and placed opposite the Misericordia, 
where it still stands. I will not forbear to say that Andrea was assisted 
in making this door by Nino, l^gson. who was afterwards a much better 
master than his father had been, and that it was completely finished 
in the year 1339, that is, not only made smooth and polished all over, 


but also gilded by fire ; and it is believed that it was cast in metal by 
some Venetian masters, very expert in the founding of metals, and of 
this there is found record in the books of the Guild of the Merchants of 
Calimara, Wardens of the Works of S. Giovanni. 

While the said door was making, Andrea made not only the other 
works aforesaid but also many others, and in particular the model of 
the Church of S. Giovanni at Pistoia, which was founded in the year 
1332- In that same year, on January 25, in excavating the founda- 
tions of this church, there was found the body of the Blessed Atto, 
once Bishop of that city, who had been buried in that place one hun- 
dred and thirty-seven years. The architecture, then, of this church, 
which is round, was passing good for -those times. In the principal 
church of the said city of Pistoia there is also a tomb of marble by the hand 
of Andrea, with the body of the sarcophagus full of little figures, and 
some larger figures above ; in which tomb is laid to rest the body of 
Messer Cino d' Angibolgi, Doctor of Laws, and a very famous scholar in 
his time, as Messer Francesco Petrarca testifies in that sonnet : 

Piangete, donne, e con voi pianga Amore ; 
and also in the fourth chapter of the Triumph of Love, where he says : 

Ecco Cin da Pistoia, Guitton d' Arezzo, 
Che di non esser primo par ch' ira aggia. 

In that tomb there is seen the portrait of Messer Cino himself in 

marble, by the hand of Andrea ; he is teaching a number of his scholars, 

who are round him, with an attitude and manner so beautiful that. 

although to-day it might not be prized, in those days it must have 

v been a marvellous thing. 

Andrea was also made use of in matters of architecture by 
Gualtieri, Duke of Athens and Tyrant of the Florentines, who made him 
enlarge the square, and caused him, in order to safeguard himself in his 
palace, to secure all the lower windows on the first floor (where to-day 
is the Sala de' Dugento) with iron bars, square and very strong. 
The said Duke also added, opposite S. Pietro Scheraggio, the walls of 

(After a relief, by Andrea Pisano, on the Campanile, Florence ) 


rustic work that are beside the palace, in order to enlarge it ; and in the 
thickness of the wall he made a secret staircase, in order to ascend and 
descend unseen. And at the foot of the said wall of rustic work he made a 
great door, which serves to-day for the Customs-house, and above that 
his arms, and all with the design and counsel of Andrea ; and although 
these arms were chiselled out by the Council of Twelve, which took pains 
to efface every memorial of that Duke, there remained none the less in 
the square shield the form of the lion rampant with two tails ,(as anyone 
can see who examines it with diligence) For the same Duke Andrea 
built many towers round the walls of the city, and he not only made a 
magnificent beginning for the Porta a S. Friano and brought it to 
the completion that is seen, but also made the walls for the vestibules 
of all the gates of the city, and the lesser gates for the convenience of 
the people. And because the Duke had it in his mind to make a fortress 
on the Costa di S. Giorgio, Andrea made the model for it, which after- 
wards was not used, for the reason that the work was never given a 
beginning, the Duke having been driven out in the year 1343. Never- 
theless, there was effected in great part the desire of that Duke to 
bring the palace to the form of a strong castle, because, to that which 
had been made originally, he added the great mass which is seen to-day, 
enclosing within its circuit the houses of the Filipetri, the tower and 
the houses of the Amidei and Mancini, and those of the Bellalberti. 
And because, having made a beginning with so great a fabric and 
with the thick walls and barbicans, he had not all the material that was 
essential equally in readiness, he held back the construction of the 
Ponte Vecchio, which was being worked on with all haste as a work of 
necessity, and availed himself of the stone hewn and the wood prepared 
for it, without the least scruple. And although Taddeo Gaddi was not 
perhaps inferior in the matters of architecture to Andrea Pisano, the 
Duke would not avail himself of him in these buildings, by reason of his 
being a Florentine, but only of Andrea. The same Duke Gualtieri 
wished to pull down S. Cecilia, in order to see from his palace the 
Strada Romana and the Mercato Nuovo, and likewise to destroy S. Pietro 
Scheraggio for his own convenience, b ut he had not leave to do this from 
i. 17 


the Pope ; and meanwhile, as it has been said above, he was driven out 
by the fury of the people. 

Deservedly then did Andrea gain, by the honourable labours of so 
many years, not only very great rewards but also the citizenship; for 
he was made a citizen of Florence by the Signoria, and was given offices 
and magistracies in the city, and his works were esteemed both 
while he lived and after his death, there being found no one who could 
surpass him in working, until there came Niccolo Aretino, Jacopo della 
Quercia of Siena, Donatello, Filippo di Ser Brunellesco, and Lorenzo 
Ghiberti, who executed the sculptures and other works that they made 
in such a manner that people recognized in how great error they had lived 
up to that time ; for these men recovered with their works that excellence 
which had been hidden and little known by men for many and many a 
year. The works of Andrea date about the year of our salvation 1340. 

Andrea left many disciples; among others, Tommaso Pisanq, 
architect and sculptor, who finished the Chapel of the Campo Santo 
and added the finishing touch to the Campanile of the Duomo namely, 
that final part wherein are the bells. Tommaso is believed to have 
been the son of Andrea, this being found written in the panel of the 
high-altar of S. Francesco in Pisa, wherein there is, carved in half-relief, 
a Madonna, with other Saints made by him, and below these his name 
and that of his father. 

Andrea was survived by Nino, his son, who applied himself to 
sculpture ; and his first work was in S. Maria Novella, where he 
finished a Madonna in marble begun by his father, which is within the 
side door, beside the Chapel of the Minerbetti. Next, having gone to 
Pis_a, he made in the Spina a half-length figure in marble of Our Lady, 
who is suckling an infant Jesus Christ wrapped in certain delicate 
draperies. For this Madonna an ornamental frame of marble was made 
in the year 1522, by the agency of Messer Jacopo Corbini, and another 
frame, much greater and more beautiful, was made then for another 
Madonna of marble, which was of full length and by the hand of the 
same Nino ; in the attitude of which Madonna the mother is seen handing 
a rose with much grace to her Son, who is taking it in a childlike 


(After Nino Pisano. Orvicto : Museo delV Opera) 


manner, so beautiful that it may be said that Nino was beginning to 
rob the stone of its hardness and to reduce it to the softness of flesh, giving 
it lustre by means of the highest polish. This figure is between a S. John 
and a S. Peter in marble, the head of the latter being a portrait of Andrea 
from the life. Besides this, for an altar in S. Caterina, also in Pisa, 
Nino made two statues of marble that is, a Madonna, and an Angel who 
is bringing her the Annunciation, wrought, like his other works, with 
so great diligence that it can be said that they are the best that were 
made in those times. Below this Madonna receiving the Annunciation 
Nino carved these words on the base : ON THE FIRST DAY OF FEBRUARY, 
1370 ; and below the Angel : THESE FIGURES NINO MADE, THE SON OF 
ANDREA PISANO. He also made other works in that city and in Naples, 
whereof it is not needful to make mention. 

Andrea died at the age of seventy-five, in the year 1345, and was 
buried by Nino in S. Maria del Fiore, with this epitaph : 





BUONAMICO DI CRISTOFANO, called Buffalmacco, painter of Florence, who 
was a disciple of Andrea Tafi, and celebrated for his jokes by Messer 
Giovanni Boccaccio in his Decameron, was, as is known, a very dear 
companion of Bruno and Calandrino, painters equally humorous and gay ; 
and as may be seen in his works, scattered throughout all Tuscany, he was 
a man of passing good judgment in his art of painting. I Franco Sacchetti 
relates in his three hundred Stories (to begin with the things that this 
man did while still youthful), that Buffalmacco lived, while he was a lad, 
with Andrea, and that this master of his used to make it a custom, when 
the nights were long, to get up before daylight to labour, and to call the 
lads to night-work. This being displeasing to Buonamico, who was 
made to rise out of his soundest sleep, he began to think of finding a 
way whereby Andrea might give up rising so much before daylight to 
work, and he succeeded ; for having found thirty large cockroaches, or 
rather blackbeetles, in a badly swept cellar, with certain fine and short 
needles he fixed a little taper on the back of each of the said cockroaches, 
and, the hour coming when Andrea was wont to rise, he lit the tapers 
and put the animals one by one into the room of Andrea, through a chink 
in the door. He, awaking at the very hour when he was wont to 
call Buffalmacco, and seeing those little lights, all full of fear began to 
tremble and in great terror to recommend himself under his breath to God, 
like the old gaffer that he was, and to say his prayers or psalms ; and 
finally, putting his head below the bedclothes, he made no attempt for that 
night to call Buffalmacco, but stayed as he was, ever trembling with fear, 
up to daylight. In the morning, then, having risen, he asked Buonamico 
if he had seen, as he had himself, more than a thousand demons ; whereupon 


Buonamico said he had not, because he had kept his eyes closed, 
and was marvelling that he had not been called to night- work. " To 
night- work !" said Tafo, " I have had something else to think of besides 
painting, and I am resolved at all costs to go and live in another house." 
The following night, although Buonamico put only three of them into 
the said room of Tafo, none the less, what with terror of the past night 
and of those few devils that he saw, he slept not a wink ; nay, no sooner 
was it daylight than he rushed from the house, meaning never to return, 
and a great business it was to make him change his mind. At last 
Buonamico brought the parish priest, who consoled him the best 
that he could. Later, Tafo and Buonamico discoursing over the affair, 
Buonamico said : " I have ever heard tell that the greatest enemies of 
God are the demons, and that in consequence they must also be the 
most capital adversaries of painters ; because, besides that we make 
them ever most hideous, what is worse, we never attend to aught else 
than to making saints, male and female, on walls and panels, and to 
making men more devout and more upright thereby, to the despite of the 
demons ; wherefore, these demons having a grudge against us for this, as 
beings that have greater power by night than by day they come and 
play us these tricks, and worse tricks will they play if this use of rising for 
night- work is not given up completely." With these and many other 
speeches Buffalmacco knew so well how to manage the business, being 
borne out by what Sir Priest kept saying, that Tafo gave over rising for 
night-work, and the devils ceased going through the house at night with 
little lights. But Tafo beginning again, for the love of gain, not many 
months afterwards, having almost forgotten all fear, to rise once more 
to work in the night and to call Buffalmacco, the cockroaches too began 
again to wander about ; wherefore he was forced by fear to give up the 
habit entirely, being above all advised to do this by the priest. Afterwards 
this affair, spreading throughout the city, brought it about that for a, 
time neither Tafo nor other painters made a practice of rising to work at 
night. Later, and no long time after this, Buffalmacco, having become a 
passing good master, took leave of Tafo, as the same Franco relates, and 
began to work for himself ; and he never lacked for something to do/* 


[Now, Buffalmacco having taken a house, to work in and to live in 
as well, that had next door a passing rich woolworker, who, being a 
simpleton, was called Capodoca (Goosehead), the wife of this man would 
rise every night very early, precisely when Buffalmacco, having up to 
then been working, would go to lie down ; and sitting at her wheel, 
which by misadventure she had planted opposite to the bed of 
Buffalmacco, she would spend the whole night spinning her thread ; 
wherefore Buonamico, being able to get scarce a wink of sleep, began 
to think and think how he could remedy this nuisance. Nor was it long 
before he noticed that behind a wall of brickwork, that divided his house 
from Capodoca's, was the hearth of his uncomfortable neighbour, and 
that through a hole it was possible to see what she was doing over the 
fire. Having therefore thought of a new trick, he bored a hole with a 
long gimlet through a cane, and, watching for a moment when the wife 
of Capodoca was not at the fire, he pushed it more than once through 
the aforesaid hole in the wall and put as much salt as he wished into his 
neighbour's pot ; wherefore Capodoca, returning either for dinner or for 
supper, more often than not could not eat or even taste either broth or 
meat, so bitter was everything through the great quantity of salt. For once 
or twice he had patience and only made a little noise about it ; but after 
he saw that words were not enough, he gave blows many a time for this 
to the poor woman, who was in despair, it appearing to her that she was 
more than careful in salting her cooking. She, one time among others 
that her husband was beating her for this, began to try to excuse herself, 
wherefore Capodoca, falling into even greater rage, set himself to thrash 
her again in a manner that the woman screamed with all her might, 
and the whole neighbourhood ran up at the noise ; and among others 
there came up Buffalmacco, who, having heard of what Capodoca was 
accusing his wife and in what way she was excusing herself, said to 
Capodoca : "I' faith, comrade, this calls for a little reason ; thou dost 
complain that the pot, morning and evening, is too much salted, and I 
marvel that this good woman of thine can do anything well. I, for 
my part, know not how, by day, she keeps on her feet, considering that 
the whole night she sits up over that wheel of hers, and sleeps not, to 

i. 18 


my belief, an hour. Make her give up this rising at midnight, and 
them wilt see that, having her fill of sleep, she will have her wits about 
her by day and will not fall into such blunders." Then, turning to the 
other neighbours, he convinced them so well of the grave import of the 
matter, that they all said to Capodoca that Buonamico was speaking the 
truth and that it must be done as he advised. He, therefore, believing 
that it was so, commanded her not to rise in the night, and the pot was 
then reasonably salted, save when perchance the woman on occasion 
rose early, for then Buffalmacco would return to his remedy, which 
finally brought it about that Capodoca made her give it up completely ."7 
Buffalmacco, then, among the first works that he made, painted 
with his own hand the whole church of the Convent of the Nuns of 
Faenza, which stood in Florence on the site of the present Cittadella del 
Prato ; and among other scenes that he made there from the life of Christ, 
in all which he acquitted himself very well, he made the Massacre that 
Herod ordained of the Innocents, wherein he expressed very vividly the 
emotions both of the murderers and of the other figures ; for in some 
nurses and mothers who are snatching the infants from the hands of the 
murderers and are seeking all the assistance that they can from their 
hands, their nails, their teeth, and every movement of the body, there is 
shown on the surface a heart no less full of rage and fury than of woe. 

Of this work, that convent being to-day in ruins, there is to be seen 
nothing but a coloured sketch in our book of drawings by diverse 
masters, wherein there is this scene drawn by the hand of Buonamico. 
himself. In the doing of this work for the aforesaid Nuns of Faenza,. 
seeing that Buffalmacco was a person very eccentric and careless both in 
dress and in manner of life, it came to pass, since he did not always wear 
his cap and his mantle, as in those times it was the custom to do, that 
the nuns, seeing him once through the screen that he had caused to be 
made, began to say to the steward that it did not please them to see him. 
in that guise, in his jerkin ; however, appeased by him, they stayed for a 
little without saying more. But at last, seeing him ever in the same 
guise, and doubting whether he was not some knavish boy for grinding 
colours, they had him told by the Abbess that they would have liked 


to see the master at work, and not always him. To which Buonamico 
answered, like the good fellow that he was, that as soon as the master 
was there, he would let them know ; taking notice, none the less, of the 
little confidence that they had in him. Taking a stool, therefore, and placing 
another above it, he put on top of all a pitcher, or rather a water-jar, and 
on the mouth of that he put a cap, hanging over the handle, and then 
he covered the rest of the jar with a burgher's mantle, and finally, putting 
a brush in suitable fashion into the spout through which the water 
is poured, he went off. The nuns, returning to see the work through an 
opening where the cloth had slipped, saw the supposititious master in full 
canonicals ; wherefore, believing that he was working might and main 
and was by way of doing different work from that which the untidy 
knave was doing, they left it at that for some days, without thinking 
more about it. Finally, having grown desirous to see what beautiful 
work the master had done, fifteen days having passed, during which 
space of time Buonamico had never come near the place, one night, 
thinking that the master was not there, they went to see his paintings, 
and remained all confused and blushing by reason of one bolder than 
the rest discovering the solemn master, who in fifteen days had done not 
one stroke of work. Then, recognizing that he had served them as 
they merited and that the works that he had made were worthy of 
nothing but praise, they bade the steward recall Buonamico, who, with 
the greatest laughter and delight, returned to the work, having given 
them to know what difference there is between men and pitchers, and 
that it is not always by their clothes that the works of men should be 
judgedj [In a few days, then, he finished a scene wherewith they were 
much contented, it appearing to them to be in every way satisfactory, 
except that the figures appeared to them rather wan and pallid than 
otherwise in the flesh-tints. Buonamico, hearing this, and having learnt 
that the Abbess had some Vernaccia, the best in Florence, which was 
used for the holy office of the Mass, said to them that in order to remedy 
this defect nothing else could be done but to temper the colours with 
some good Vernaccia ; because, touching the cheeks and the rest of the 
flesh on the figures with colours thus tempered, they would become rosy 


and coloured in most lifelike fashion. Hearing this, the good sisters, 
who believed it all, kept him ever afterwards furnished with the best 
Vernaccia, as long as the work lasted ; and he, rejoicing in it, from that 
time onwards made the figures fresher and more highly coloured with 
his ordinary colours!? 

This work finished, he painted some stories of S. James in the Abbey 
of Settimo, in the chapel that is in the cloister, and dedicated to that 
Saint, on the vaulting of which he made the four Patriarchs and the 
four Evangelists, among whom S. Luke is doing a striking action in 
blowing very naturally on his pen, in order that it may yield its ink. 
Next, in the scenes on the walls, which are five, there are seen beautiful 
attitudes in the figures, and the whole work is executed with inven- 
tion and judgment. And because Buonamico was wont, in order to 
make his flesh-colour better, as is seen in this work, to make a ground 
of purple, which in time produces a salt that becomes corroded and 
eats away the white and other colours, it is no marvel if this work is 
spoilt and eaten away, whereas many others that were made long before 
have been very well preserved. And I, who thought formerly that these 
pictures had received injury from the damp, have since proved by 
experience, studying other works of the same man, that it is not from 
the damp but from this particular use of Buffalmacco's that they have 
become spoilt so completely that there is not seen in them either design 
or anything else, and that where the flesh-colours were there has remained 
nothing else but the purple. This method of working should be used 
by no one who is anxious that his pictures should have long life. 

Buonamico wrought, after that which has been described above, two 
panels in distemper for the Monks of the Certosa of Florence, whereof 
one is where the books of chants are kept for the use of the choir, and the 
other below in the old chapels. He painted in fresco the Chapel of 
the Giochi and Bastari in the Badia of Florence, beside the principal 
chapel ; which chapel, although afterwards it was conceded to the family 
of the Boscoli, retains the said pictures of Buffalmacco up to our own 
day. In these he made the Passion of Christ, with effects ingenious and 
beautiful, showing very great humility and sweetness in Christ, who 


is washing the feet of His Disciples, and ferocity and cruelty in the Jews, 
who are leading Him to Herod. But he showed talent and facility 
more particularly in a Filate, whom he painted in prison, and in 
Judas hanging from a tree ; wherefore it is easy to believe what is told 
about this gay painter namely, that when he thought fit to use diligence 
and to take pains, which rarely came to pass, he was not inferior to any 
painter whatsoever of his times. And to show that this is true, the works 
injresco that he made in Ognissanti, where to-day there is the cemetery, 
were wrought with so much diligence and with so many precautions, that 
the water which has rained over them for so many years has not been 
able to spoil them or to prevent their excellence from being recognized, 
and that they have been preserved very well, because they were wrought 
purely on the fresh plaster. On the walls, then, are the Nativity of 
Jesus Christ and the Adoration of the Magi that is, over the tomb of 
the Aliotti. After this work Buonamico, having gone to Bologna, 
wrought some scenes in fresco in S. Petronio, in the Chapel of the Bolognini 
that is, on the vaulting ; but by reason of some accident, I know not 
what, supervening, he did not finish them. 

It is said that in the year 1302 he was summoned to Assisi, and 
that in the Church of S. Francesco, in the Chapel of S. Caterina, he 
painted all the stories of her life in fresco, which have been very well 
preserved ; and there are therein some figures that are worthy to be 
praised. This chapel finished, on his passing through Arezzp, Bishop 
Guido, by reason of having heard that Buonamico was a gay fellow and 
an able painter, desired him to stop in that city and paint for him, in the 
Vescovado, the chapel where baptisms are now held. Buonamico, having 
put his hand to the work, had already done a good part of it when there 
befell him the strangest experience in the world, which was, according to 
\vhat Franco Sacchetti relates, as follows, f The Bishop had an ape, the 
drollest and the most mischievous that there had ever been. This 
animal, standing once on the scaffolding to watch Buonamico at work, 
had given attention to everything, and had never taken his eyes off him 
when he was mixing the colours, handling the flasks, beating the eggs 
for making the distempers, and in short when he was doing anything 


else whatsoever Now, Buonamico having left off working one Saturday 
evening, on the Sunday morning this ape, notwithstanding that he had, 
fastened to his feet, a great block of wood which the Bishop made him 
carry in order that thus he might not be able to leap wherever he liked, 
climbed on to the scaffolding whereon Buonamico was used to stand to 
work, in spite of the very great weight of the block of wood ; and there, 
seizing the flasks with his hands, pouring them one into another and 
making six mixtures, and beating up whatever eggs there were, he 
began to daub over with the brushes all the figures there, and, perse- 
vering in this performance, did not cease until he had repainted every- 
thing with his own hand ; and this done, he again made a mixture of all 
the colours that were left him, although they were but few, and, getting 
down from the scaffolding, went off. Monday morning having come, 
Buonamico returned to his work, where, seeing the figures spoilt, the 
flasks all mixed up, and everything upside down, he stood all in marvel 
and confusion. Then, having pondered much in his own mind, he con- 
cluded finally that some Aretine had done this, through envy or through 
some other reason ; wherefore, having gone to the Bishop, he told 
him how the matter stood and what he suspected, whereat the Bishop 
became very much disturbed, but, consoling Buonamico, desired him to 
put his hand again to the work and to repaint all that was spoilt. And 
because the Bishop had put faith in his words, which had something of 
the probable, he gave him six of his men-at-arms, who should stand in 
hiding with halberds while he was not at work, and, if anyone came, 
should cut him to pieces without mercy. The figures, then, having been 
painted over again, one day that the soldiers were in hiding, lo and 
behold ! they hear a certain rumbling through the church, and a little 
while after the ape climbing on to the scaffolding ; and in the twinkling 
of an eye, the mixtures made, they see the new master set himself to 
work over the saints of Buonamico. Calling him, therefore, and showing 
him the culprit, and standing with him to watch the beast at his work, 
they were all like to burst with laughter ; and Buonamico in particular, 
for all that he was vexed thereby, could not keep from laughing till the 
tears came. Finally, dismissing the soldiers who had mounted guard 


with their halberds, he went off to the Bishop and said to him : " My 
lord, you wish the painting to be done in one fashion, and your ape 
wishes it done in another." Then, relating the affair, he added : " There 
was no need for you to send for painters from elsewhere, if you had the 
true master at home. But he, perhaps, knew not so well how to make the 
mixtures ; now that he knows, let him do it by himself, since I am no 
more good here. And his talent being revealed, I am content that there 
should be nothing given to me for my work save leave to return to 
Florence." The Bishop, hearing the affair, although it vexed him, could 
not keep from laughing, and above all as he thought how an animal had 
played a trick on him who was the greatest trickster in the world. 
However, after they had talked and laughed their fill over this strange 
incident, the Bishop persuaded Buonamico to resume the work for the 
third time, and he finished it. And the ape, as punishment and penance 
for the crime committed, was shut up in a great wooden cage and kept 
where Buonamico was working, until this work was entirely finished ; 
and no one could imagine the contortions which that creature kept 
making in this cage with his face, his body, and his hands, seeing others 
working and himself unable to take part. 7 

\ The work in this chapel finished, the Bishop, either in jest or for 
some other reason known only to himself, commanded that Buffalmacco 
should paint him, on one wall of his palace, an eagle on the back of a 
lion which it had killed. The crafty painter, having promised to do all 
that the Bishop wished, had a good scaffolding made of planks, saying 
that he refused to be seen painting such a thing. This made, shutting 
himself up alone inside it, he painted, contrary to what the Bishop 
wished, a lion that was tearing to pieces an eagle ; and, the work finished, 
he sought leave from the Bishop to go to Florence in order to get some 
colours that he was wanting. And so, locking the scaffolding with a key, 
he went off to Florence, in mind to return no more to the Bishop, who, 
seeing the business dragging on and the painter not returning, had the 
scaffolding opened, and discovered that Buonamico had been too much 
for him. Wherefore, moved by very great displeasure, he had him 
banished on pain of death, and Buonamico, hearing this, sent to tell him 


to do his worst ; whereupon the Bishop threatened him to a fearful tune. 
But finally, remembering that he had begun the playing of tricks and 
that it served him right to be tricked himself, he pardoned Buonamico 
for his insult and rewarded him liberally for his labours. Nay, what is 
more, summoning him again no long time after to Arezzo, he caused him 
to make many works in the Duomo Vecchio, which are now destroyed, 
treating him ever as his familiar friend and very faithful servant. The 
same man painted the niche of the principal chapel in the Church of 
S. Giustino, also in Arezzo.? 

Some writers tell that Buonamico being in Florence and often fre- 
quenting the shop of Maso del Saggio with his friends and companions, 
he was there, with many others, arranging the festival which the 
men of the Borgo San Friano held on May i in certain boats on 
the Arno ; and that when the Ponte alia Carraia, which was then 
of wood, collapsed by reason of the too great weight of the people who 
had flocked to that spectacle, he did not die there, as many others did, 
because, precisely at the moment when the bridge collapsed on to the 
structure that was representing Hell on the boats in the Arno, he had 
gone to get some things that were wanting for the festival.^ 

Being summoned to Pisa no long time after these events, Buonamico 
painted many stories of the Old Testament in the Abbey of S. Paolo a 
Ripa d'Arno, then belonging to the Monks of Vallombrosa, in both tran- 
septs of the church, on three sides, and from the roof down to the floor, 
beginning with the Creation of man, and continuing up to the completion 
of the Tower of Nimrod. In this work, although it is to-day for the 
greater part spoilt, there are seen vivacity in the figures, good skill and 
loveliness in the colouring, and signs to show that the hand of Buonamico 
could very well express the conceptions of his mind, although he had little 
power of design. On the wall of the right transept which is opposite to 
that wherein is the side door, in some stories of S. Anastasia, there are 
seen certain ancient costumes and head-dresses, very charming and 
beautiful, in some women who are painted there with graceful manner. 
Not less beautiful, also, are those figures that are in a boat, with 
well-conceived attitudes, among which is the portrait of Pope Alex- 


ander IV, which Buonamico had, so it is said, from Tafo his master, who 
had portrayed that Pontiff in mosaic in S. Pietro. In the last scene, 
likewise, wherein is the martyrdom of that Saint and of others, Buonamico 
expressed very well in the faces the fear of death and the grief and terror 
of those who are standing to see her tortured and put to death, while she 
stands bound to a tree and over the fire. 

A companion of Buonamico in this work was Bruno di Giovanni, 
a painter, who is thus called in the old book of the Company ; which 
Bruno (also celebrated as a gay fellow by Boccaccio), the said scenes on 
the walls being finished, painted the altar of S. Ursula with the company 
ofjvirginSj in the same church. He made in one hand of the said Saint 
a standard with the arms of Pisa, which are a white cross on a field of 
red, and he made her offering the other hand to a woman who, rising 
between two mountains and touching the sea with one of her feet, is 
stretching both her hands to her in the act of supplication ; which woman, 
representing Pisa, and having on her head a crown of gold and over her 
shoulders a mantle covered with circlets and eagles, is seeking assistance 
from that Saint, being much in travail in the sea. Now, for the reason 
that in painting this work Bruno was bewailing that the figures which 
he was making therein had not the same life as those of Buonamico, 
the latter, in his waggish way, in order to teach him to make his figures 
not merely vivacious but actually speaking, made him paint some words 
issuing from the mouth of that woman who is supplicating the Saint, 
and the answer of the Saint to her, a device that Buonamico had seen 
in the works that had been made in the same city by Cimabue. This 
expedient, even as it pleased Bruno and the other thick-witted men of 
those times, in like manner pleases certain boors to-day, who are served 
therein by craftsmen as vulgar as themselves. And in truth it seems 
extraordinary that from this beginning there should have passed into 
use a device that was employed for a jest and for no other reason, inso- 
much that even a great part of the Campo Santo, wrought by masters of 
repute, is full of this rubbish. 

The works of Buonamico, then, finding much favour with the Pisans, 
he was charged by the Warden of the Works of the Campo Santo to make 
i. 19 


four scenes in fresco, from the beginning of the world up to the con- 
struction of Noah's Ark, and round the scenes an ornamental border, 
wherein he made his own portrait from the life namely, in a frieze, in 
the middle of which, and on the corners, are some heads, among which, as 
I have said, is seen his own, with a cap exactly like the one that is seen 
above. And because in this work there is a God, who is upholding with 
his arms the heavens and the elements nay, the whole body of the 
universe Buonamico, in order to explain his story with verses similar to 
the pictures of that age, wrote this sonnet in capital letters at the foot, 
with his own hand, as may still be seen ; which sonnet, by reason of its 
antiquity and of the simplicity of the language of those times, it has 
seemed good to me to include in this place, although in my opinion 
it is not likely to give much pleasure, save perchance as something 
that bears witness as to what was the knowledge of the men of 

that century : 

Voi che avisate questa dipintura 

Di Dio pietoso, sommo creatore, 

Lo qual fe' tutte cose con amore, 

Pesate, numerate ed in misura ; 

In nove gradi angelica natura, 

In ello empirio ciel pien di splendore, 

Colui che non si muove ed e motore, 

Ciascuna cosa fece buona e pura. 

Levate gli occhi del vostro intelletto, 

Considerate quanto e ordinato 

Lo mondo universale ; e con affetto 

Lodate lui che 1' ha si ben create ; 

Pensate di passare a tal diletto 

Tra gli Angeli, dov' e ciascun beato. 

Per questo mondo si vede la gloria, 

Lo basso e il mezzo e 1' alto in questa storia. 

And to tell the truth, it was very courageous in Buonamico to under- 
take to make a God the Father five braccia high, with the hierarchies, 
the heavens, the angels, the zodiac, and all the things above, even to 
the heavenly body of the moon, and then the element of fire, the air, 
the earth, and finally the nether regions ; and to fill up the two angles 
below he made in one, S. Augustine, and in the other, S. Thomas 


Aquinas. At the head of the same Campo Santo, where there is now 
the marble tomb of Corte, Buonamico painted the whole Passion of 
Christ, with a great number of figures on foot and on horseback, and all 
in varied and beautiful attitudes ; and continuing the story he made 
the Resurrection and the Apparition of Christ to the Apostles, passing 

Having finished these works and at the same time all that he had gained 
^Pisa, which was not little, he returned to Florence as poor as he had left 
it, and there he made many panels and works in fresco, whereof there is 
no need to make further record. Meanwhile there had been entrusted 
to Bruno, his great friend (who had returned with him from Pisa, where 
they had squandered everything), some works in S. Maria Novella, and 
seeing that Bruno had not much design or invention, Buonamico designed 
for him all that he afterwards put into execution on a wall in the said 
church, opposite to the pulpit and as long as the space between column 
and column, and that was the story of S. Maurice and his companions, 
who were beheaded for the faith of Jesus Christ. This work Bruno made 
for Guido Campese, then Constable of the Florentines, whose portrait 
he had made before he died in the year 1312 ; in that work he painted 
him in his armour, as was the custom in those times, and behind him 
he made a line of men-at-arms, armed in ancient fashion, who make a 
beautiful effect, while Guido himself is kneeling before a Madonna who 
has the Child Jesus in her arms, and is appearing to be recommended to 
her by S. Dominic and S. Agnes, who are on either side of him. 
Although this picture is not very beautiful, yet, considering the design 
and invention of Buonamico, it is worthy to be in part praised, and above 
all by reason of the costumes, helmets, and other armour of those times. 
And I have availed myself of it in some scenes that I have made for the 

-*-. J 

Lord Duke Cosimo, wherein it was necessary to represent men armed 
in ancient fashion, and other similar things of that age ; which work has 
greatly pleased his most Illustrious Excellency and others who have 
seen it. And from this it can be seen how much benefit may be gained ) 
from the inventions and works made by these ancients, although they I 
may not be very perfect, and in what fashion profit and advantage can// 


be drawn from their performances, since they opened the way for us 
tto the marvels that have been made up to our day and are being made 

[ While Bruno was making this work, a peasant desiring that 
Buonamico should make him a S. Christopher, they came to an agree- 
ment in Florence and arranged a contract in this fashion, that the price 
should be eight florins and that the figure should be twelve braccia high. 
Buonamico, then, having gone to the church where he was to make the 
S. Christopher, found that by reason of its not being more than nine braccia 
either in height or in length, he could not, either without or within, 
accommodate the figure in a manner that it might stand well ; wherefore 
he made up his mind, since it would not go in upright, to make it within 
the church lying down. But since, even so, the whole length would not 
go in, he was forced to bend it from the knees downwards on to the 
wall at the head of the church. The work finished, the peasant would 
by no means pay for it ; nay, he made an outcry and said he had been 
cozened. The matter, therefore, going before the Justices, it was judged, 
according to the contract, that Buonamico was in the right. ; 

In S. Giovanni fra I'Arcore was a very beautiful Passion of Christ 
by the hand of Buonamico, and among other things that were much 
praised therein was a Judas hanging from a tree, made with much 
judgment and beautiful manner. An old man, likewise, who was blowing 
his nose, was most natural, and the Maries, broken with weeping, had 
expressions and aspects so sad, that they deserved to be greatly praised, 
since that age had not as yet much facility in the method of representing 
V the emotions of the soul with the brush. On the same wall there was a 
good figure in a S. Ivo of Brittany, who had many widows and orphans 
at his feet, and two angels in the sky, who were crowning him, were 
made with the sweetest manner. This edifice and the pictures together 
were thrown to the ground in the year of the war of 1529. 

In Cortona. also, for Messer Aldobrandino, Bishop of that city, 
Buonamico painted many works in the Vescovado, and in particular 
the chapel and panel of the high-altar ; but seeing that everything 
was thrown to the ground in renovating the palace and the church, 


there is no need to make further mention of them. In S. Francesco, 
however, and in S. Margherita, in the same city, there are still some 
pictures by the hand of Buonamico. From Cortona going once more to 
Ajjsj^i, Buonamico painted in fresco, in the lower Church of S. Francesco, 
the whole Chapel of Cardinal Egidio Alvaro, a Spaniard ; and because 
he acquitted himself very well, he was therefore liberally rewarded 
by that Cardinal. Finally, Buonamico having wrought many pictures 
throughout the whole March, in returning to Florence he stopped at 
Perugia, and painted there in fresco the Chapel of the Buontempi 
in the Church of S. Domenico, making therein stories of the life of 
S. Catherine, virgin and martyr. And in the Church of S. Domenico 
Vecchio, on one wall, he painted in fresco the scene when the same 
Catherine, daughter of King Costa, making disputation, is convincing and 
converting certain philosophers to the faith of Christ ; and seeing that 
this scene is more beautiful than any other that Buonamico ever made, 
it can be said with truth that in this work he surpassed himself. I The 
people of Perugia, moved by this, according to what Franco Sacchetti 
writes, commanded that he should paint S. Ercolano, Bishop and Pro- 
tector of that city, in the square ; wherefore, having agreed about the 
price, on the spot where the painting was to be done there was made 
a screen of planks and matting, to the end that the master might not be 
seen painting ; and this made, he put his hand to the work. But before 
ten days had passed, every passer-by asking when this picture would 
be finished, as though such works were cast in moulds,* the matter dis- 
gusted Buonamico ; wherefore, having come to the end of the work and 
being distracted with such importunity, he determined within himself to 
take a gentle vengeance on the impatience of these people. And this came 
to pass, for, when the work was finished, before unveiling it, he let them see 
it, and it was entirely to their satisfaction ; but on the people of Perugia 
wishing to remove the screen at once, Buonamico said that for two days 
longer they should leave it standing, for the reason that he wished to 
retouch certain parts on the dry ; and so it was done. Buonamico ; 
then, having mounted the scaffolding, removed the great diadem of gold 
* Proverbial expression, equivalent to our " twinkling of an eye." 


that he had given to the Saint, raised in relief with plaster, as was the 
custom in those times, and made him a crown, or rather garland, right 
round his head, of roaches ; and this done, one morning he settled with his 
host and went off to Florence. Now, two days having passed, the people 
of Perugia, not seeing the painter going about as they had been used, 
asked the host what had become of him, and, hearing that he had returned 
to Florence, went at once to remove the screen ; and finding their S. Erco- 
lano crowned solemnly with roaches, they sent word of it immediately 
to their governors. But although these sent horsemen post-haste to 
look for Buonamico, it was all in vain, seeing that he had returned in 
great haste to Florence. Having determined, then, to make a painter of 
their own remove the crown of roaches and restore the diadem to the 
Saint, they said all the evil that can be imagined about Buonamico and 
the rest of the Florentines."] 


Buonamico, back in FJorengfi and caring little about what the people 
of Perugia might say, set to work and made many paintings, whereof, 
in order not to be too long, there is no need to make mention. (I will 
say only this, that having painted in fresco at Calcinaia a Madonna 
with the Child in her arms, he who had charged him to do it, in place of 
paying him, gave him words ; whence Buonamico, who was not used 
to being trifled with or being fooled, determined to get his due by 
hook or by crook. And so, having gone one morning to Calcinaia, he 
transformed the child that he had painted in the arms of the Virgin 
into a little bear, but in colours made only with water, without size or 
distemper. This change being seen, not long after, by the peasant 
who had given him the work to do, almost in despair he went to find 
Buonamico, praying him for the sake of Heaven to remove the little bear 
and to paint another child as before, for he was ready to make satis- 
faction. This the other did amicably, being paid for both the first and 
the second labour without delay ; and for restoring the whole work a wet 
sponge sufficed. Finally, seeing that it would take too long were I to wish to 
relate all the tricks, as well as all the pictures, that Buonamico Buffalmacco 
made, and above all when frequenting the shop of Maso del Saggio, which 
was the resort of citizens and of all the gay and mischievous spirits 


that there were in Florence, I will make an end of discoursing about 

He died at the age of seventy-eight, and being very poor and having 
done more spending than earning, by reason of being such in character, 
he was supported in his illness by the Company of the Misericordia in 
S. Maria Nuova, the hospital of Florence ; and then, being dead, he 
was buried in the Ossa (for so they call a cloister, or rather cemetery, 
of the hospital), like the rest of the poor, in the year 1340. The works 
of this man were prized while he lived, and since then, for works of that 
age, they have been ever extolled. 


I. 20 

(After the painting by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Milan: Cagnola Collection) 



IF that debt is great, as without doubt it is, which craftsmen of fine genius 
should acknowledge to nature, much greater should that be that is due 
from us to them, seeing that they, with great solicitude, fill the cities 
with noble and useful buildings and with lovely historical compositions, 
gaining for themselves, for the most part, fame and riches with their 
works ; as did Ambrogio Lorenzetti, painter of Siena, who showed beautiful 
and great invention in grouping and placing his figures thoughtfully in 
historical scenes. That this is true is proved by a scene in the Church 
of the Friars Minor in Siena, painted by him very gracefully in the 
cloister, wherein there is represented in what manner a youth becomes 
a friar, and how he and certain others go to the Soldan, and are 
there beaten and sentenced to the gallows and hanged on a tree, and 
finally beheaded, with the addition of a terrible tempest. In this picture, 
with much art and dexterity, he counterfeited in the travailing of the 
figures the turmoil of the air and the fury of the rain and of the wind, 
wherefrom the modern masters have learnt the method and the principle 
of this invention, by reason of which, since it was unknown before, he 
deserved infinite commendation. Ambrogio was a practised colourist 
in fresco, and he handled colours in distemper with great dexterity 
and facility, as it is still seen in the panels executed by him in 
Siena for the little hospital called Mona Agnesa, where he painted and 
finished a scene with new and beautiful composition. And at the great 
hospital, on one front, he made in fresco the Nativity of Our Lady and 
the scene when she is going with the virgins to the Temple. For 
the Friars of S. Augustine in the same city he painted their Chapter- 
house, where the Apostles are seen represented on the vaulting, with 


scrolls in their hands whereon is written that part of the Creed which 
each one of them made ; and below each is a little scene containing in 
painting that same subject that is signified above by the writing. Near 
this, on the main front, are three stories of S. Catherine the martyr, 
who is disputing with the tyrant in a temple, and, in the middle, the 
Passion of Christ, with the Thieves on the Cross, and the Maries below, 
who are supporting the Virgin Mary who has swooned ; which works 
were finished by him with much grace and with beautiful manner. 

In a large hall of the Palazzo della Signoria in Siena he painted 
the War of Asinalunga, and after it the Peace and its events, wherein he 
fashioned a map, perfect for those times ; and in the same palace he 
made eight scenes in terra-verde, highly finished. It is said that he 
also sent to Volterra a panel in distemper which was much praised in 
that city. And painting a chapel in fresco and a panel in distemper at 
Massa, in company with others, he gave them proof how great, both 
in judgment and in genius, was his worth in the art of painting ; and in 
Orvieto he painted in fresco the principal Chapel of S. Maria. After these 
works, proceeding to Florence, he made a panel in S. Procolo, and in a 
chapel he painted the stories of S. Nicholas with little figures, in order to 
satisfy certain of his friends, who desired to see his method of working ; 
and, being much practised, he executed this work in so short a time that 
there accrued to him fame and infinite repute. And this work, on the 
predella of which he made his own portrait, brought it about that in the 
year 1^5 he was summoned to Cortona by order of Bishop Ubertini, 
then lord of that city, where he wrought certain works in the Church 
of S. Margherita, built a short time before for the Friars of S. Francis 
on the summit of the hill, and in particular the half of the vaulting and 
the walls, so well that, although to-day they are wellnigh eaten away by 
time, there are seen notwithstanding most beautiful effects in the figures ; 
and it is clear that he was deservedly commended for them. 

This work finished, Ambrogio returned to Siena 7 where he lived 
honourably the remainder of his life, not only by reason of being an 
excellent master in painting, but also because, having given attention 
in his youth to letters, they were a useful and pleasant accompaniment 


to him in his painting, and so great an ornament to his whole life that 
they rendered him no less popular and beloved than did his profession of 
painting ; wherefore he was not only intimate with men of learning and 
of taste, but he was also employed, to his great honour and advantage, 
in the government of his Republic. The ways of Ambrogio were in 
all respects worthy of praise, and rather those of a gentleman and a 
philosopher than of a craftsman ; and what most demonstrates the 
wisdom of men, he had ever a mind disposed to be content with that 
which the world and time brought, wherefore he supported with a mind 
temperate and calm the good and the evil that came to him from fortune. 
And truly it cannot be told to what extent courteous ways and modesty, 
with the other good habits, are an honourable accompaniment to all the 
arts, and in particular to those that are derived from the intellect and 
from noble and exalted talents ; wherefore every man should make 
himself no less beloved with his ways than with the excellence of his art. 

Finally, at the end of his life, Ambrogio made a panel at Monte 
Oliveto di Chiusuri with great credit to himself, and a little afterwards, 
being eighty-three years of age, he passed happily and in the Christian 
faith to a better life. His works date about 1340. 

As it has been said, the portrait of Ambrogio, by his own hand, is 
seen in the predella of his panel in S. Procolo, with a cap on his head. 
And what was his worth in draughtsmanship is seen in our book, wherein 
are some passing good drawings by his hand. 



( 'Central panel of the polyptych by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. 
Massa Marittima : Municipin) 




FOR many centuries Rome had been deprived not only of fine letters 
and of the glory of arms but also of all the sciences and fine arts, 
when, by the will of God, there was born therein Pietro Cavallini, in 
those times when Giotto, having, it may be said, restored painting to 
life, was holding the sovereignty among the painters in Italy. He, then, 
having been a disciple of Giotto and having worked with Giotto himself 
on the Navicella in mosaic in S. Pietro, was the first who, after him, 
gave light to that art, and he began to show that he had been no 
unworthy disciple of so great a master when he painted, over the door of 
the sacristy of the Araceli, some scenes that are to-day eaten away by 
time, and very many works coloured in fresco throughout the whole 
Church of S. Maria di Trastevere. Afterwards, working in mosaic on the 

.MI --i-i i .- - -- 

principal chapel and on the facade of the church, he showed in the 
beginning of such a work, without the help of Giotto, that he was no less 
able in the execution and bringing to completion of mosaics than he 
was in painting. Making many scenes in fresco, also, in the Church of 
S. Grisogono, he strove to make himself known both as the best disciple 
of Giotto and as a good craftsman. In like manner, also in Trastevere, he 
painted almost the whole Church of S. Cecilia with his own hand, and 
many works in the Church of S. Francesco appresso Ripa. He then 
made the facade of mosaic in S. Paolo without Rome, and many stories 
of the Old Testament for the central nave. And painting some works 
in fresco in the Chapter-house of the first cloister, he put therein so great 
diligence that he gained thereby from men of judgment the name of 
being a most excellent master, and was therefore so much favoured by 
.the prelates that they commissioned him to do the inner wall of S. Pietro, 
i. 161 21 


between the windows. Between these he made the four Evangelists, 
wrought very well in fresco,' of extraordinary size in comparison with the 
figures that at that time were customary, with a S. Peter and a S. Paul, 
and a good number of figures in a ship, wherein, the Greek manner 
pleasing him much, he blended it ever with that of Giotto ; and 
since he delighted to give relief to his figures, it is recognized that 
he used thereunto the greatest efforts that can be imagined by man. 
But the best work that he made in that city was in the said Church of 
Araceli on the Campidoglio, where he painted in fresco, on the vaulting 
of the principal apse, the Madonna with the Child in her arms, surrounded 
by a circle of sunlight, and beneath is the Emperor Octavian, to whom 
the Tiburtine Sibyl is showing Jesus Christ, and he is adoring Him; 
and the figures in this work, as it has been said in other places, have 
been much better preserved than the others, because those that are 
on the vaulting are less injured by dust than those that are made on- 
the walls. 

After these works Pietro went to Tuscany, in order to see the works 
of the other disciples of his master Giotto and those of Giotto himself ; 
and with this occasion he painted many figures in S. Marco in Florence, 
which are not seen to-day, the church having been whitewashed, except 
the Annunciation, which stands covered beside the principal door of the 
church. In S. Basilic, also, in the Canto alia Macine, he made another 
Annunciation in fresco on a wall, so like to that which he had made 
before in S. Marco, and to another one that is in Florence, that "some 
believe! and not without probability, that they are all by the hand of 
this Pietro ; and in truth they could not be more like, one to another, 
than they are. Among the figures that he made in the said S. Marco^ 
in Florence was the portrait of Pope Urban V from the life, with the 
heads of S. Peter and S. Paul; from which portrait Fra Giovanni da 
Fiesole copied that one which is in a panel in S. Domenico, also of 
Fiesole ; and that was no small good-fortune, seeing that the portrait 
which was in S. Marco and many other figures that were about the 
church in fresco were covered with whitewash, as it has been said, when 
that convent was taken from the monks who occupied it before and given. 



(Detail from "The Last Judgment," after the fresco by Pietro Cavallini. 
Rome : Convent of S. Cecilia) 


to the Preaching Friars, the whole being whitewashed with little) 
attention and consideration. 9 

Passing afterwards, in returning to Rome, through Assisi^ not only 
in order to see those buildings and those notable works made there by his 
master and by some of his fellow-disciples, but also to leave something 
there by his own hand, he painted in fresco in the lower Church of 
S. Francesco namely, in the transept that is on the side of the sacristy 
a Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, with men on horseback armed in various 
fashions, and with many varied and extravagant costumes of diverse 
foreign peoples. In the air he made some angels, who, poised on their 
wings in diverse attitudes, are in a storm of weeping ; and some pressing 
their hands to their breasts, others wringing them, and others beating 
the palms, they are showing that they feel the greatest grief at the death 
of the Son of God ; and all, from the middle backwards, or rather from 
the middle downwards, melt away into air. In this work, well executed 
in the colouring, which is fresh and vivacious and so well contrived 
in the junctions of the plaster that the work appears all made in one ; 
day, I have found the coat of arms of Gualtieri, Duke of Athens ; but by | 
reason of there not being either a date or other writing there, I cannot 
affirm that it was caused to be made by him. I say, however, that 
besides the firm belief of everyone that it is by the hand of Pietro, the 
manner could not be more like his than it is, not to mention that it may 
be believed, this painter having lived at the time when Duke Gualtieri 
was in Italy, that it was made by Pietro as well as by order of the said 
Duke. At least, let everyone think as he pleases, the work," aLS^anciejat, is 
worthy of nothing but praise, and the manner, besides the public voice, 
shows that it is by the hand of this man. 

In the Church of S. Maria at Orvieto, wherein is the most holy 
relic of the Corporal, the same Pietro wrought in fresco certain stories 
of Jesus Christ and of the Host, with much diligence ; and this he did, 
so it is said, for Messer Benedetto, son of Messer Buonconte Monaldeschi 
and lord at that time, or rather tyrant, of that city. Some likewise 
affirm that Pietro made some sculptures, and that they were very 
successful, because he had genius for whatever he set himself to do, and 


that he made the Crucifix that is in the great Church of S. Paolo without 
Rome ; which Crucifix, as it is said and may be believed, is the one that 
spoke to S. Brigida in the year 1370. 

By the hand of the same man were some other works in that manner, 
which were thrown to the ground when the old Church of S. Pietro was 
pulled down in order to build the new. Pietro was very diligent in all 
his works, and sought with every effort to gain honour and to acquire fame 
in the art. He was not only a good Christian, but most devout and very 
much the friend of the poor, and he was beloved by reason of his excellence 
not only in his native city of Rome but by all those who had knowledge of 
him or of his works. And finally, he devoted himself at the end of his 
old age to religion, leading an exemplary life, with so much zeal that he 
was almost held a saint. Wherefore there is no reason to marvel not only 
that the said Crucifix by his hand spoke to the Saint, as it has been said, 
but also that innumerable miracles have been and still are wrought by a 
certain Madonna by his hand, which I do not intend to call his best, 
although it is very famous in all Italy and although I know very certainly 
and surely, by the manner of the painting, that it is by the hand of 
Pietro, whose most praiseworthy life and piety towards God were worthy 
to be imitated by all men. Nor let anyone believe, for the reason that 
it is scarcely possible and that experience continually shows this to 
us, that it is possible to attain to honourable rank without the fear 
and grace of God and without goodness of life. A disciple of Pietro 
Cavallini was Giovanni da Pistoia, who made some works of no great 
importance in his native city. 

Finally, at the age of eighty-five, he died in Rome of a colic caught 
while working in fresco, by reason of the damp and of standing continually 
at this exercise. His pictures date about the year 1364, and he was 
honourably buried in S. Paolo without Rome, with this epitaph : 


His portrait has never been found, for all the diligence that has been 
used ; it is therefore not included. 


(Detail from "The Last Judgment," after the fresco by Pietro Cavallini. 
Rome : Convent of S. Cecilia) 




(After the Altarpiece by Simon Sanese [Memmi or Martini]. 
Naples : Church of S. Lorenzo) 



TRULY happy can those men be called, who are inclined by nature to 
those arts that can bring to them not only honour and very great profit, 
but also, what is more, fame and a name wellnigh eternal, and happier still 
are they who have from their cradles, besides such inclination, courtesy 
and honest ways, which render them very dear to all men. But happiest 
of all, finally, talking of craftsmen, are they who not only receive a love 
of the good from nature, and noble ways from the same source and from 
education, but also live in the time of some famous writer, from whom, 
in return for a little portrait or some other similar courtesy in the 
way of art, they gain on occasion the reward of eternal honour and 
name, by means of their writings ; and this, among those who practise 
the arts of design, should be particularly desired and sought by the 
excellent painters, seeing that their works, being on the surface and on 
a ground of colour, cannot have that eternal life which castings in bronze 
and works in marble give to sculpture, or buildings to the architects. 

Very great, then, was that good-fortune of Simone, to live at the 
time of Messer Francesco Petrarca and to chance to find that most 
amorous poet at the Court of Avignon, desirous of having the image 
of Madonna Laura by the hand of Maestro Simone, because, having 
received it as beautiful as he had desired, he made memory of him in 
two sonnets, whereof one begins : 

Per mirar Policleto a prova fiso 

Con gli altri che ebber f ama di quell' arte ; 

and the second : 

Quando giunse a Simon 1' alto concetto 
Ch' a mio nome gli pose in man lo stile. 



These sonnets, in truth, together with the mention made of him 
in one of his Familiar Letters, in the fifth book, which begins : " Non 
sum nescius," have given more fame to the poor life of Maestro Simone 
than all his own works have ever done or ever will, seeing that they must 
at some time perish, whereas the writings of so great a man will live for 
eternal ages. Simone Memmi of Siena, then, was an excellent painter, 
remarkable in his own times and much esteemed at the Court of the 
Pope, for the reason that after the death of Giotto his master, whom he 
had followed to Rome when he made the Navicella in mosaic and the other 
works, he made a Virgin Mary in the portico of S. Pietro, with a S. Peter 
and a S. Paul, near to the place where the bronze pine-cone is, on a 
wall between the arches of the portico on the outer side ; and in this he 
counterfeited the manner of Giotto very well, receiving, so much praise, 
above all because he portrayed therein a sacristan of S. Pietro lighting 
some lamps before the said figures with much promptness, that he was 
summoned with very great insistence to the Court of the Pope at 
Avignon, where he wrought so many pictures, in fresco and on panels, 
that he made his works correspond to the reputation that had been 
borne thither. Whence, having returned to Sjena in great credit and 
much favoured on this account, he was commissioned by the Signoria to 
paint in fresco, in a hall of their Palace, a Virgin Mary with many 
figures round her, which he completed with all perfection to his own 
great credit and advantage. And in order to show that he was no less 
able to work on panel than in fresco, he painted in the said Palace a 
panel which led to his being afterwards made to paint two of them in 
the Duomo, and a Madonna with the Child in her arms, in a very beautiful 
attitude, over the door of the Office of the Works of the said Duomo. 
In this picture certain angels, supporting a standard in the air, are flying 
and looking down on to some saints who are round the Madonna, and they 
make a very beautiful composition and great adornment. 

This done, Simone was brought by the General of the Augustinians 
to Florence, where he painted the Chapter-house of S. Spirito, showing 
invention and admirable judgment in the figures and the horses that 
he made, as is proved in that place by the story of the Passion of 

(Assist: Lower Church of ,S. Francesco, Chapel of S. Martin. Fresco) 


Christ, wherein everything is seen to have been made by him with 
ingenuity, with discretion, and with most beautiful grace. There are seen 
the Thieves on the Cross yielding up their breath, and the soul of the good 
one being carried to Heaven by the angels, and that of the wicked one 
going, accompanied by devils and all harassed, to the torments of Hell. 
Simone likewise showed invention and judgment in the attitudes and 
in the very bitter weeping of some angels round the Crucifix. But what 
is most worthy of consideration, above everything else, is to see those 
spirits visibly cleaving the air with their shoulders, almost whirling 
right round and yet sustaining the motion of their flight. This work 
would bear much stronger witness to the excellence of Simone, if, besides 
the fact that time has eaten it away, it had not been spoilt by those 
Fathers in the year 1560, when they, being unable to use the Chapter- 
house, because it was in bad condition from damp, made a vaulted roof 
to replace a worm-eaten ceiling, and threw down the little that was left 
of the pictures of this man. About the same time Simone painted a 
Madonna and a S. Luke, with some other Saints, on a panel in distemper, 
which is to-day in the Chapel of the Gondi in S. Maria Novella, with his 

Next, Simone painted three walls of the Chapter-house of the said 
S. Maria Novella, very happily. Or^jthe first, which is over the door 
whereby one enters, he made the life of S. Dominic ; and on that which 
follows in the direction of the church, he represented the Religious Order 
of the same Saint fighting against the heretics, represented by wolves, 
which are attacking some sheep, which are defended by many dogs 
spotted with black and white, and the wolves are beaten back and slain. 
There are also certain heretics, who, being convinced in disputation, are 
tearing their books and penitently confessing themselves, and so their souls 
are passing through the gate of Paradise, wherein are many little figures 
that are doing diverse things. In Heaven is seen the glory of the Saints, 
and Jesus Christ ; and in the world below remain the vain pleasures and 
delights, in human figures, and above all in the shape of women who are 
seated, among whom is the Madonna Laura of Petrarca, portrayed from 
life and clothed in green, with a little flame of fire between her breast 

I. 22 


and her throat. There is also the Church of Christ, and, as a guard for 
her, the Pope, the Emperor, the Kings, the Cardinals, the Bishops, and 
all the Christian Princes ; and among them, beside a Knight of Rhodes, 
is Messer Francesco Petrarca, also portrayed from the life, which Simone 
did in order to enhance by his works the fame of the man' who had 
made him immortal. For the Universal Church he painted the Church of 
S. Maria del Fiore, not as it stands to-day, but as he had drawn it from 
the model and design that the architect Arnolfo had left in the Office 
of Works for the guidance of those who had to continue the building 
after him ; of which models, by reason of the little care of the Wardens 
of Works of S. Maria del Fiore, as it has been said in another place, 
there would be no memorial for us if Simone had not left it painted in 
this work. On the third wall, which is that of the altar, he made the 
Passion of Christ, who, issuing from Jerusalem with the Cross on His 
shoulder, is going to Mount Calvary, followed by a very great multitude. 
Arriving there, He is seen raised on the Cross between the Thieves, 
with the other circumstances that accompany this story. I will say 
nothing of there being therein a good number of horses, of the casting 
of lots by the servants of the court for the garments of Christ, of the 
raising of the Holy Fathers from the Limbo of Hell, and of all the other 
well-conceived inventions, which belong not so much to a master of that 
age as to the most excellent of the moderns ; inasmuch as, taking up 
the whole walls, with very diligent judgment he made in each wall diverse 
scenes on the slope of a mountain, and did not divide scene from scene 
with ornamental borders, as the old painters were wont to do, and many 
moderns, who put the earth over the sky four or five times, as it is seen 
in the principal chapel of this same church, and in the Campo Santo of 
Pisa, where, painting many works in fresco, he was forced against his 
will to make such divisions, for the other painters who had worked 
in that place, such as Giotto and Buonamico his master, had begun to 
make their scenes with this bad arrangement. 

In that Campo Santo, then, following as the lesser evil the method 
used by the others, Simone made in fresco, over the principal door and 
on the inner side, a Madonna borne to Heaven by a choir of angels, who 






are singing and playing so vividly that there are seen in them all those 
various gestures that musicians are wont to make in singing or playing, 
such as turning the ears to the sound, opening the mouth in diverse ways, 
raising the eyes to Heaven, blowing out the cheeks, swelling the throat, 
and in short all the other actions and movements that are made in 
music. Under this Assumption, in three pictures, he made some scenes 
from the life of S. Ranieri of Pisa. In the first scene he is shown as a 
youth, playing the psaltery and making some girls dance, who are most 
beautiful by reason of the air of the heads and of the loveliness of the 
costumes and head-dresses of those times. Next, the same Ranieri, 
having been reproved for such lasciviousness by the Blessed Alberto the 
Hermit, is seen standing with his face downcast and tearful and with 
his eyes red from weeping, all penitent for his sin, while God, in the 
sky, surrounded by a celestial light, appears to be pardoning him. In 
the second picture Ranieri, distributing his wealth to God's poor 
before mounting on board ship, has round him a crowd of beggars, 
of cripples, of women, and of children, all most touching in their pushing 
forward, their entreating, and their thanking him. And in the same 
picture, also, that Saint, having received in the Temple the gown of a 
pilgrim, is standing before a Madonna, who, surrounded by many angels, 
is showing him that he will repose on her bosom in Pisa ; and all 
these figures have vivacity and a beautiful air in the heads. In the 
third Simone painted the scene when, having returned after seven years 
from beyond the seas, he is showing that he has spent thrice forty days 
in the Holy Land, and when, standing in the choir to hear the Divine 
offices, he is tempted by the Devil, who is seen driven away by a firm 
determination that is perceived in Ranieri not to consent to offend 
God, assisted by a figure made by Simone to represent Constancy, who 
is chasing away the ancient adversary not only all in confusion but 
also (with beautiful and fanciful invention) all in terror, holding his 
hands to his head in his flight, and walking with his face downcast and 
his shoulders shrunk as close together as could be, and saying, as it is 
seen from the writing that is issuing from his mouth : " I can no more." 
And finally, there is also in this picture the scene when Ranieri, kneeling on 


Mount Tabor, is miraculously seeing Christ in air with Moses and Elias ; 
and all the features of this work, with others that are not mentioned, 
show that Simone was very fanciful and understood the good method of 
grouping figures gracefully in the manner of those times. These scenes 
finished, he made two panels in distemper in the same city, assisted by 
Lippo Mejmmi, his brother, who had also assisted him to paint the 
Chapter-house of S. Maria Novella and other works. 

He, although he had not the excellence of Simone, none the less 
followed his manner as well as he could, and made many works in fresco 
in his company for S. Croce in Florence ; the panel of the high-altar in 
S. Caterina at Pisa, for the Preaching Friars ; and in S. Paolo a Ripa 
d' Arno, besides many very beautiful scenes in fresco, the panel in dis- 
temper that is to-day over the high-altar, containing a Madonna, S. Peter, 
S. Paul, S. John the Baptist, and other Saints ; and on this Lippo put 
his name. After these works he wrought by himself a panel in distemper 
for the Friars of S. Augustine in San Gimignano, and thereby acquired 
so great a name that he was forced to send to Arezzo, to Bishop Guido 
de' Tarlati, a panel with three half-length figures which is to-day in the 
Chapel of S. Gregorio in the Vescovado. 

While Simone was at work in Florence, one his cousin, an ingenious 
architect called Neroccio, undertook in the year 1332 to make to ring 
the great bell of the Commune of Florence, which, for a period of seventeen 
years, no one had been able to make to ring without twelve men to pull 
at it. He balanced it, then, in a manner that two could move it, and 
once moved one alone could ring it without a break, although it weighed 
more than six thousand libbre ; wherefore, besides the honour, he 
gained thereby as his reward three hundred florins of gold, which was 
great payment in those times. 

But to return to our two Memmi of Siena ; Lippo, besides the works 
mentioned, wrought a panel in distemper, with the design of Simone, 
which was carried to Pistoia and placed over the high-altar of the Church 
of S. Francesco, and was held very beautiful. Finally, both having 
returned to their native city of Siena, Simone began a very large work in 
colour over the great gate of Camollia, containing the Coronation of Our 

(Berlin: K. Fritjricll Museum 108 I A. fane/} 


r, with an infinity of figures, which remained unfinished, a very great 
sickness coming upon him, so that he, overcome by the gravity of the 
sickness, passed away from this life in the year 1345, to the very great 
sorrow of all his city and of Lippo his brother, who gave him honourable 
burial in S. Francesco. 

Lippo afterwards finished many works that Simone had left im- 
perfect, and among these was a Passion of Jesus Christ over the 
high-altar of S. Niccola in Ancona, wherein Lippo finished what Simone 
had begun, imitating that which the said Simone had made and finished 
in the Chapter-house of S. Spirito in Florence. This work would be 
worthy of a longer life than peradventure will be granted to it, there being 
in it many horses and soldiers in beautiful attitudes, which they are 
striking with various animated movements, doubting and marvelling 
whether they have crucified or not the Son of God. At Assisi, likewise, in 
the lower Church of S. Francesco, he finished some figures that Simone 
had begun for the altar of S. Elizabeth, which is at the entrance of the 
door that leads into the chapels, making there a Madonna, a S. Louis 
King of France, and other Saints, in all eight figures, which are only as 
far as the knees, but good and very well coloured. Besides this, in the 
great refectory of the said convent, at the top of the wall, Simone had 
begun many little scenes and a Crucifix made in the shape of a Tree of the 
Cross, but this remained unfinished and outlined with the brush in red 
over the plaster, as may still be seen to-day ; which method of working 
was the cartoon that our old masters used to make for painting in fresco, 
for greater rapidity ; for having distributed the whole work over the 
plaster, they would outline it with the brush, reproducing from a small 
design all that which they wished to paint, and enlarging in proportion 
all that they thought to put down. Wherefore, even as this one is seen 
thus outlined, and many others in other places, so there are many others 
that had once been painted, from which the work afterwards peeled off, 
leaving them thus outlined in red over the plaster. 

But returning to our Lippo, who drew passing well, as it may be seen 
in our book in a hermit who is reading with his legs crossed ; he lived 
for twelve years after Simone, executing many works throughout all 


Italy, and in particular two panels in S. Croce in Florence. And 
seeing that the manner of these two brothers is very similar, one can 
distinguish the one from the other by this, that Simone used to sign his 
name at the foot of his works in this way : SIMONIS MEMMI SENENSIS 
OPUS ; and Lippo, leaving out his baptismal name and caring nothing 
about a Latinity so rough, in this other fashion : opus MEMMI DE SENIS 

On the wall of the Chapter-house of S. Maria Novella besides 
Petrarca and Madonna Laura, as it has been said above Simone por- 
trayed Cimabue, the architect Lapo, his son Arnolfo, and himself, and in 
the person of that Pope who is in the scene he painted Benedetto XI of 
Treviso, one of the Preaching Friars, the likeness of which Pope had 
been brought to Simone long before by Giotto, his master, when he 
returned from the Court of the said Pope, who had his seat in Avignon. 
In the same place, also, beside the said Pope, he portrayed Cardinal 
Niccola da Prato, who had come to Florence at that time as Legate of 
the said Pontiff, as Giovanni Villani relates in his History. 

Over the tomb of Simone was placed this epitaph : 


As it is seen in our aforesaid book, Simone was not very excellent in 
draughtsmanship, but he had invention from nature, and he took much 
delight in drawing portraits from the life ; and in this he was held so 
much the greatest master of his times that Signer Pandolfo Malatesti 
sent him as far as Avignon to portray Messer Francesco Petrarca, at 
the request of whom he made afterwards the portrait of Madonna Laura, 
with so much credit to himself. 



(After the painting by Lippo Memmi. 
Altenburg: Linden nu Museum, .fj) 




IT is a beautiful and truly useful and praiseworthy action to reward 
talent largely in every place, and to honour him who has it, seeing that 
an infinity of intellects which might otherwise slumber, roused by this 
encouragement, strive with all industry not only to learn their art but 
to become excellent therein, in order to advance themselves and to attain 
to a rank both profitable and honourable ; whence there may follow 
honour for their country, glory for themselves, and riches and nobility 
for their descendants, who, upraised by such beginnings, very often 
become both very rich and very noble, even as the descendants of the 
painter Taddeo Gaddi did by reason of his work. This Taddeo di 
Gaddo Gaddi, a Florentine, after the death of Giotto who had held him 
at his baptism and had been his master for twenty-four years after the 
death of Gaddo, as it is written by Cennino di Drea Cennini, painter of 
Colle di Valdelsa remained among the first in the art of painting and 
greater than all his fellow-disciples both in judgment and in genius ; and 
he wrought his first works, with a great facility given to him by nature 
rather than acquired by art, in the Church of S. Croce in Florence, in the 
chapel of the sacristy, where, together with his companions, disciples of the 
dead Giotto, he made some stories of S. Mary Magdalene, with beautiful 
figures and with most beautiful and extravagant costumes'of those times. 
And in the Chapel of the Baroncelli and Bandini, where Giotto had 
formerly wrought the panel in distemper, he made by himself in fresco, on 
one wall, some stories of Our Lady which were held very beautiful. He 
also painted over the door of the said sacristy the story of Christ dis- 
puting with the Doctors in the Temple, which was afterwards half ruined 
when the elder Cosimo de' Medici, in making the noviciate, the chapel, and 
i. 177 23 


the antechamber in front of the sacristy, placed a cornice of stone over 
the said door. In the same church he painted in fresco the Chapel of 
the Bellacci, and also that of S. Andrea by the side of one of the three 
of Giotto, wherein he made the scene of Jesus Christ taking Andrew and 
Peter from their nets, and the crucifixion of the former Apostle, a work 
greatly commended and extolled both then when it was finished and 
still at the present day. Over the side-door, below the burial-place of 
Carlo Marsuppini of Arezzo, he made a Dead Christ with the Maries, wrought 
in fresco, which was very much praised; and below the tramezzo* 
that divides the church, on the left hand, above the Crucifix of Donato, 
he painted in fresco a story of S. Francis, representing a miracle that 
he wrought in restoring to life a boy who was killed by falling from a 
terrace, together with his apparition in the air. And in this story he 
portrayed Giotto his master, Dante the poet, Guido Cavalcanti, and, 
some say, himself. Throughout the said church, also, in diverse places, 
he made many figures which are known by painters from the manner. 
For the Company of the Temple he painted the shrine that is at the corner 
of the Via del Crocifisso, containing a very beautiful Deposition from 
the Cross. 

In the cloister of S. Spirito he wrought two scenes in the little 

arches beside the Chapter-house, in one of which he made Judas 

selling Christ, and in the other the Last Supper that He held with the 

Apostles. And in the same convent, over the door of the refectory, he 

painted a Crucifix and some Saints, which give us to know that among 

the others who worked here he was truly an imitator of the manner 

of Giotto, which he held ever in the greatest veneration. In S . Stefaaoh 

del Ponte Vecchio he painted the panel and the predella of the high-altar 

with great diligence ; and on a panel in the Oratory of S. Michele in 

Orto he made a very good picture of a Dead Christ being lamented by 

the Maries and laid to rest very devoutly by Nicodemus in the Sepulchre. 

In the Church of the Servite Friars he painted the Chapel of 

S. Niccold, belonging to those of the palace, with stories of that Saint, 

wherein he showed very good judgment and grace in a boat that he 

* See note on p. 57. 


painted, demonstrating that he had complete understanding of the 
tempestuous agitation of the sea and of the fury of the storm ; and 
while the mariners are emptying the ship and jettisoning the cargo, 
S. Nicholas appears in the air and delivers them from that peril. This 
work, having given pleasure and having been much praised, was the 
reason that he was made to paint the chapel of the high-altar in that 
church, wherein he made in fresco some stories of Our Lady, and another 
figure of Our Lady on a panel in distemper, with many Saints wrought in 
lively fashion. In like manner, in the predella of the said panel, he 
made some other stories of Our Lady with little figures, whereof there 
is no need to make particular mention, seeing that in the year 1467 
everything was destroyed when Lodovico, Marquis of Mantua, made 
in that place the tribune that is there to-day and the choir of the 
friars, with the design of Leon Battista Alberti, causing the panel to be 
carried into the Chapter-house of that convent ; in the refectory of 
which Taddeo made, just above the wooden seats, the Last Supper of 
Jesus Christ with the Apostles, and above that a Crucifix with many 

Having given the last touch to these works, Taddeo Gaddi was 
summoned to Pisa, where, for Gherardo and Bonaccorso Gambacorti, he 


wrought in fresco the principal chapel of S. Francesco, painting with 
beautiful colours many figures and stories of that Saint and of S. Andrew 
and S. Nicholas. Next, on the vaulting and on the front wall is Pope 
Honorius, who is confirming the Order ; here Taddeo is portrayed from 
the life, in profile, with a cap wrapped round his head, and at the foot 
of this scene are written these words : 




Besides this, in the cloister also of the same convent he made in fresco 
a Madonna with her Child in her arms, very well coloured, and in the 
middle of the church, on the left hand as one enters, a_S._Louis the 
Bishop, seated, to whom S. Gherardo da Villamagna, who had been a 
friar of this Order, is recommending a Fra Bartolommeo, then Prior of 


the said convent. In the figures of this work, seeing that they were 
taken from nature, there are seen liveliness and infinite grace, in that 
simple manner which was in some respects better than that of Giotto, 
above all in expressing supplication, joy, sorrow, and other similar 
emotions, which, when well expressed, ever bring very great honour to 
the painter. 

Next, having returned to Florence, Taddeo continued for the Com- 
mune the work of Orsanmichele and refounded the piers of the Loggia^ 
building them with stone dressed and well shaped, whereas before they 
had been made of bricks, without, however, altering the design that 
Arnolfo left, with directions that there should be made over the Loggia 
a palace with two vaults for storing the provisions of grain that 
the people and Commune of Florence used to make. To the end that 
this work might be finished, the Guild of Porta S. Maria, to which 
the charge of the fabric had been given, ordained that there should be 
paid thereunto the tax of the square of the grain-market and some 
other taxes of very small importance. (.But what was far more important, 
it was well ordained with the best counsel that each of the Guilds of 
Florence should make one pier by itself, with the Patron Saint of the Guild 
in a niche therein, and that every year, on the festival of each Saint > 
the Consuls of that Guild should go to church to make offering, and 
should hold there the whole of that day the standard with their insignia, 
but that the offering, none the less, should be to the Madonna for the 
succour of the needy poor?) And because, during the great flood of the 
year 1333, the waters had swept away the parapets of the Ponte 
Rubaconte, thrown down the Castle of Altafronte, left nothing of the 
Ponte Vecchio but the two piers in the middle, and completely ruined 
the Ponte a S. Trinita except one pier that remained all shattered, 
as well as half the Ponte alia Carraia, bursting also the weir of Ognissanti, 
those who then ruled the city determined no longer to allow the dwellers 
on the other side of the Arno to have to return to their homes with so 
great inconvenience as was caused by their having to cross in boats. 
Wherefore, having sent for Taddeo Gaddi, for the reason that Giotto his 
master had gone to Milan, they caused him to make the model and 


design of the Ponte ^ecchw, giving him instructions that he should 
have it brought to completion as strong and as beautiful as might be 
possible ; and he, sparing neither cost nor labour, made it with such 
strength in the piers and with such magnificence in the arches, all of 
stone squared with the chisel, that it supports to-day twenty-two shops 
on either side, which make in all forty-four, with great profit to the 
Commune, which drew from them eight hundred florins yearly in rents. 
The extent of the arches from one side to the other is thirty-two braccia, 
that of the street in the middle is sixteen braccia, and that of the shops on 
either side eight braccia. For this work, which cost sixty thousand 
florins of gold, not only did Taddeo then deserve infinite praise, but 
even to-day he is more than ever commended for it, for the reason that, 
besides many other floods, it was not moved in the year 1557, on 
September 13, by that which threw down the Ponte a S. Trinita 
and two arches of that of the Carraia, and shattered in great part 
the Rubaconte, together with much other destruction that is very 
well known. And truly there is no man of judgment who can fail to 
be amazed, not to say marvel, considering that the said Ponte Vecchio 
in so great an emergency could sustain unmoved the onset of the waters 
and of the beams and the wreckage made above, and that with so great 

At the same time Taddeo directed the founding of the Ponte a 
S. Trinita, which was finished less happily in the year 1346, at the 
cost of twenty thousand florins of gold ; I say less happily, because, not 
having been made like the Ponte Vecchio, it was entirety ruined by the 
said flood of the year 1557. In like manner, under the direction of 
Taddeo there was made at the said time the wall of the Costa a 
S. Gregorio, with piles driven in below, including two piers of the bridge 
in order to gain additional ground for the city on the side of the Piazza 
de' Mozzi, and to make use of it, as they did, to make the mills that are 

While all these works were being made by the direction and design 
of Taddeo, seeing that he did not therefore stop painting, he decorated 
the Tribunal of the Mercanzia Vecchia, wherein, with poetical invention, 


he represented the Tribunal of Six (which is the number of the chief 
men of that judicial body), who are standing watching the tongue being 
torn from Falsehood by Truth, who is clothed with a veil over the nude, 
while Falsehood is draped in black ; with these verses below : 




And below the scene are these verses : 


Taddeo received a commission for some works in fresco in Arezzp, 
which he carried to the greatest perfection in company with his disciple 
Giovanni da Milanp. Of these we still see one in the Company of the 
Holy Spirit, a scene on the wall over the high-altar, containing the Passion 
of Christ, with many horses, and the Thieves on the Cross, a work held 
very beautiful by reason of the thought that he showed in placing Him 
on the Cross. Therein are some figures with vivid expressions which 
show the rage of the Jews, some pulling Him by the legs with a rope, 
others offering the sponge, and others in various attitudes, such as the 
Longinus who is piercing His side, and the three soldiers who are gambling 
for His raiment, in the faces of whom there is seen hope and fear as 
they throw the dice. The first of these, in armour, is standing in an 
uncomfortable attitude awaiting his turn, and shows himself so eager 
to throw that he appears not to be feeling the discomfort ; the other, 
raising his eyebrows, with his mouth and with his eyes wide open, is 
watching the dice, in suspicion, as it were, of fraud, and shows clearly 
to anyone who studies him the desire and the wish that he has to win. 
The third, who is throwing the dice, having spread the garment on the 
ground, appears to be announcing with a grin his intention of casting 
them. In like manner, throughout the walls of the church are seen 
some stories of S. John the Evangelist, and throughout the city other 
works made by Taddeo, which are recognized as being by his hand by 
anyone who has judgment in art. In the Vescovado, also, behind the 

(Florence ; Accademia 1 07. 'Panel) 


high-altar, there are still seen some stories of S. John the Baptist, which 
are wrought with such marvellous manner and design that they cause 
him to be held in admiration. In the Chapel of S. Sebastiano in 
S. Agostino, beside the sacristy, he made the stories of that martyr, 
and a Disputation of Christ with the Doctors, so well wrought and 
finished that it is a miracle to see the beauty in the changing colours of 
various sorts and the grace in the pigments of these works, which are 
finished to perfection. 

In the Church of the Sasso della Vernia in the Casentino he painted 
the chapel wherein S. Francis received the Stigmata, assisted in the 
minor details by Jjicopo di Casentino, who became his disciple by reason 
of this visit. This work finished, he returned to Florence together with 
Giovanni, the Milanese, and there, both within the city and without, they 
made very many panels and pictures of importance ; and in process of 
time he gained so much, turning all into capital, that he laid the foun- 
dation of the wealth and the nobility of his family, being ever held a 
prudent and far-sighted man. 

He also painted the Chapter-house in S. Maria Novella, being 
commissioned by the Prior of the place, who suggested the subject to him. 
It is true, indeed, that by reason of the work being large and of there 
being unveiled, at that time when the bridges were being made, the 
Chapter-house of S. Spirito, to the very great fame of Simone Memmi, 
who had painted it, there came to the said Prior a desire to call Simone 
to the half of this work ; wherefore, having discussed the whole matter 
with Taddeo, he found him well contented therewith, for the reason that 
he had a surpassing love for Simone, because he had been his fellow- 
disciple under Giotto and ever his loving friend and companion. Oh ! 
minds truly noble ! seeing that without emulation, ambition, or envy, 
ye loved one another like brothers, each rejoicing as much in the honour 
and profit of his friend as in his own ! The work was divided, therefore, 
and three walls were given to Simone, as I said in his Life, and Taddeo had 
the left-hand wall and the whole vaulting, which was divided by him into 
four sections or quarters in accordance with the form of the vaulting 
itself. In the first he made the Resurrection of Christ, wherein it appears 


that he wished to attempt to make the splendour of the Glorified Body 
give forth light, as we perceive in a city and in some mountainous crags ; 
but he did not follow this up in the figures and in the rest, doubting, 
perchance, that he was not able to carry it out by reason of the difficulty 
that he recognized therein. In the second section he made Jesus Christ 
delivering S. Peter from shipwreck, wherein the Apostles who are 
manning the boat are certainly very beautiful ; and among other 
things, one who is fishing with a line on the shore of the sea (a subject 
already used by Giotto in the mosaics of the Navicella in S. Pietro) 
is depicted with very great and vivid feeling. In the third he painted 
the Ascension of Christ, and in the fourth the coming of the Holy Spirit, 
where there are seen many beautiful attitudes in the figures of the 
Jews who are seeking to gain entrance through the door. On the wall 
below are the Seven Sciences, with their names and with those figures 
below them that are appropriate to each. Grammar, in the guise of a 
woman, with a door, teaching a child, has the writer Donato seated below 
her. After Grammar follows Rhetoric, and at her feet is a figure that 
has two hands on books, while it draws a third hand from below its 
mantle and holds it to its mouth. Logic has the serpent in her hand 
below a veil, and at her feet Zeno of Elea, who is reading. Arithmetic 
is holding the tables of the abacus, and below her is sitting Abraham, 
its inventor. Music has the musical instruments, and below her is sitting 
Tubal-Cain, who is beating with two hammers on an anvil and is standing 
with his ears intent on that sound. Geometry has the square and the 
compasses, and below, Euclid. Astrology has the celestial globe in her 
hands, and below her feet, Atlas. In the other part are sitting seven 
Theological Sciences, and each has below her that estate or condition 
of man that is most appropriate to her Pope, Emperor, King, Cardinals, 
Dukes, Bishops, Marquises, and others ; and in the face of the Pope is 
the portrait of Clement V. In the middle and highest place is S. Thomas 
Aquinas, who was adorned with all the said sciences, holding below his 
feet some heretics Arius, Sabellius, and Averroes; and round him are 
Moses, Paul, John the Evangelist, and some other figures, that have 
above them the four Cardinal Virtues and the three Theological, with 


an infinity of other details depicted by Taddeo with no little design and 
grace, insomuch that it can be said to have been the best conceived as 
well as the best preserved of all his works. 

In^the same S. Maria Novella, over the tramezzo* of the church, 
he also made a S. Jerome robed as a Cardinal, having such a devotion for 
that Saint that he chose him as the protector of his house ; and below 
this, after the death of Taddeo, his son caused a tomb to be made for 
their descendants, covered with a slab of marble bearing the arms of 
the Gaddi. For these descendants, by reason of the excellence of 
Taddeo and of their merits, Cardinal Jerome has obtained from God most 
honourable offices in the Church Clerkships of the Chamber, Bishoprics, 
Cardinalates, Provostships, and Knighthoods, all most honourable ; and 
all these descendants of Taddeo, of whatsoever degree, have ever esteemed 
and favoured the beautiful intellects inclined to the matters of sculpture 
and painting, and have given them assistance with every effort. 

Finally, having come to the age of fifty and being smitten with a 
most violent fever, Taddeo passed from this life in the year 1350, leaving ~; ,. 
his son Agjiolo and Giovanni to apply themselves to painting, recommend- 
ing them to Jacopo di Casentino for ways of life and to Giovanni da Milano 
for instruction in the art. After the death of Taddeo this Giovanni, 
besides many other works, made a panel which was placed on the altar 
of S. Gherardo da Villamagna in S. Croce, fourteen years after he had 
been left without his master, and likewise the panel of the high-altar of 
Ognissanti, where the Frati Umiliati had their seat, which was held very 
beautiful, and the tribune of the high-altar at Assisi, wherein he made a 
Crucifix, with Our Lady and S. Chiara, and stories of Our Lady on the 
walls and sides. Afterwards he betook himself to Milan, where he wrought 
many works in distemper and in fresco, and there finally he died. 

Taddeo, then, adhered constantly to the manner of Giotto, but did 
not better it much save in the colouring, which he made fresher and 
more vivacious than that of Giotto, the latter having applied himself 
so ardently to improving the other departments and difficulties of this art, 
that although he gave attention to this, he could not, however, attain 

* See note on p. 57. 
i. 24 


to the privilege of doing it, whereas Taddeo, having seen that which 
Giotto had made easy and having learnt it, had time to add something 
and to improve the colouring. 

Taddeo was buried by Agnolo and Giovanni, his sons, in the 
first cloister of S. Croce, in that tomb which he had made for Gaddo 
his father, and he was much honoured with verses by the men of culture 
of that time, as a man who had been greatly deserving for his ways of 
life and for having brought to completion with beautiful design, besides 
his pictures, many buildings of great convenience to his city, and 
besides what has been mentioned, for having carried out with solicitude 
and diligence the construction of the Campanile of S. Maria del Fiore, 
from the design left by Giotto his master ; which campanile was built 
in such a manner that stones could not be put together with more 
diligence, nor could a more beautiful tower be made, with regard 
either to ornament, or cost, or design. The epitaph that was made for 
Taddeo was this that is to be read here : 


Taddeo was very resolute in draughtsmanship, as it may be seen 
in our book, wherein is drawn by his hand the scene that he wrought 
in the Chapel of S. Andrea, in S. Croce at Florence. 




RARELY is a man of parts excellent in one pursuit without being able 
easily to learn any other, and above all any one of those that are akin 
to his original profession, and proceed, as it were, from one and the ; 
same source, as did the Florentine Orcagna, who was painter, sculptor, 
architect, and poet, as it will be told below. Born in Florence, he began,/ 
while still a child to give attention to sculpture under Andrea Pisano, 
and pursued it for some years ; then, being desirous to become abundant 
in invention in order to make lovely historical compositions, he applied 
himself with so great study to drawing, assisted by nature, who wished 
to make him universal, that having tried his hand at painting with colours 
both in distemper and in fresco, even as one thing leads to another, he 
succeeded so well with the assistance of Bernardo Orcagna, his brother, 
that this Bernardo took him in company with himself to paint the life of 
Our Lady in the principal chapel of S. Maria Novella, which then belonged 
to the family of the Ricci. This work, when finished, was held 
very beautiful, although, by reason of the neglect of those who after- 
wards had charge of it, not many years passed before, the roof becoming 
ruined, it was spoilt by the rains and thereby brought to the condition 
wherein it is to-day, as it will be told in the proper place. It is enough for 
the present to say that Domenico Ghirlandajo, who repainted it, availed 
himself greatly of the invention put into it by Orcagna, who also 
painted in fresco in the same church the Chapel of the Strozzi, which 
is near to the door of the sacristy and of the belfry, in company with 
Bernardo, his brother. In this chapel, to which one ascends by a stair- 
case of stone, he painted on one wall the glory of Paradise, with all the 
Saints and with various costumes and head-dresses of those times. On 


the other wall he made Hell, with the abysses, centres, and other things 
described by Dante, of whom Andrea was an ardent student. In the 
Church of the Servites in the same city he painted in fresco, also with 
Bernardo, the Chapel of the family of Cresci ; with a Coronation of Our 
Lady on a very large panel in S. Pietro Maggiore, and a panel in 
S. Romeo, close to the side-door. In like manner, he and his brother 
Bernardo painted the outer facade of S. Apollinare, with so great 
diligence that the colours in that exposed place have been preserved 
marvellously vivid and beautiful up to our own day. 

Moved by the fame of these works of Orcagna, which were much 
praised, the men who at that time were governing Pisa had him sum- 
moned to work on a portion of one wall in the Campo Santo of that city, 
even as Giotto and Buffalmacco had done before. Wherefore, putting 
his hand to this, Andrea painted a Universal Judgment, with some 
fanciful inventions of his own, on the wall facing towards the Duomo, 
beside the Passion of Christ made by Buffalmacco ; and making the first 
scene on the corner, he represented therein all the degrees of lords 
temporal wrapped in the pleasures of this world, placing them seated 
in a flowery meadow and under the shade of many orange-trees, which 
make a most delicious grove and have some Cupids in their branches 
above ; and these Cupids, flying round and over many young women (all 
portraits from the life, as it seems clear, of noble ladies and dames of those 
times, who, by reason of the long lapse of time, are not recognized), are 
making a show of shooting at the hearts of these young women, who have 
beside them j^oung men and nobles who are standing listening to music 
and song and watching the amorous dances of youths and maidens, who 
are sweetly taking joy in their loves. Among these nobles Orcagna 
portrayed Castruccio, Lord of Lucca, as a youth of most beautiful aspect, 
with a blue cap wound round his head and with a hawk on his wrist, 
and near him other nobles of that age, of whom we know not who they 
are. In short, in that first part, in so far as the space permitted and 
his art demanded, he painted all the delights of the world with exceeding 
great grace. In the other part of the same scene he represented on a 
high mountain the life of those who, drawn by repentance for their sins 



(Detail from the " Paradise," after the f reset) by Bernardo di Cione Orcagna. 
Florence: S. Maria Novella) 


and by the desire to be saved, have fled from the world to that moun- 
tain, which is all full of saintly hermits who are serving the Lord, busy in 
diverse pursuits with most vivacious expressions. Some, reading and 
praying, are shown all intent on contemplation, and others, labouring 
in order to gain their livelihood, are exercising themselves in various 
forms of action. There is seen here among others a hermit who is 
milking a goat, who could not be more active or more lifelike in appear- 
ance than he is. Below there is S. Macarius showing to three Kings, 
who are riding with their ladies and their retinue and going to the 
chase, human misery in the form of three Kings who are lying dead 
but not wholly corrupted in a tomb, which is being contemplated 
with attention by the living Kings in diverse and beautiful attitudes 
full of wonder, and it appears as if they are reflecting with pity for 
their own selves that they have in a short time to become such. In one 
of these Kings on horseback Andrea portrayed Uguccione della Faggiuola 
of Arezzo, in a figure which is holding its nose with one hand in order not 
to feel the stench of the dead and corrupted Kings. In the middle of 
this scene is Death, who, flying through the air- and draped in black, 
is showing that she has cut off with her scythe the lives of many, who 
are lying on the ground, of all sorts and conditions, poor and rich, halt 
and whole, young and old, male and female, and in short a good number 
of every age and sex. And because he knew that the people of Pisa 
took pleasure in the invention of Buffalmacco, who gave speech to the 
figures of Bruno in S. Paolo a Ripa d'Arno, making some letters issue 
from their mouths, Orcagna filled this whole work of his with such 
writings, whereof the greater part, being eaten away by time, cannot be 
understood. To certain old men, then, he gives these words : 




with other words that cannot be understood, and verses likewise in 
ancient manner, composed, as I have discovered, by Orcagna himself, 
who gave attention to poetry and to making a sonnet or two. Round 
these dead bodies are some devils who are tearing their souls from their 


mouths, and are carrying them to certain pits full of fire, which are on 
the summit of a very high mountain. Over against these are angels 
who are likewise taking the souls from the mouths of others of these 
dead people, who have belonged to the good, and are flying with them 
to Paradise. And in this scene there is a scroll, held by two angels, 
wherein are these words : 


with some other words that are difficult to understand. Next, below 
this, in the border of this scene, are nine angels who are holding legends 
both Italian and Latin in some suitable scrolls, put into that place below 
because above they were like to spoil the scene, and not to include them 
in the work seemed wrong to their author, who considered them very 
beautiful ; and it may be that they were to the taste of that age. The 
greater part is omitted by us, in order not to weary others with such 
things, which are not pertinent and little pleasing, not to mention that 
the greater part of these inscriptions being effaced, the remainder is little 
less than fragmentary. After these works, in making the Judgment, 
Orcagna set Jesus Christ on high above the clouds in the midst of His 
twelve Apostles, judging the quick and the dead ; showing on one side, with 
beautiful art and very vividly, the sorrowful expressions of the damned 
who are being dragged weeping by furious demons to Hell, and, on 
the other, the joy and the jubilation of the good, whom a body of angels 
guided by the Archangel Michael are leading as the elect, all rejoicing, 
to the right, where are the blessed. And it is truly a pity that for lack 
of writers, in so great a multitude of men of the robe, chevaliers, and 
other lords, that are clearly depicted and portrayed there from the life, 
there should be not one, or only very few, of whom we know the names 
or who they were ; although it is said that a Pope who is seen there is 
Innocent IV, friend* of Manfredi. 

After this work, and after making some sculptures in marble for 

* This is probably a printer's error for " nemico," as that Pope was anything but the 
friend of Manfredi. 




5 c^' 


the Madonna that is on the abutment of the Ponte Vecchio, with great 
honour for himself, he left his brother Bernardo to execute by himself a 
Hell in the Campo Santo, which is described by Dante, and which was 

iir.M<i-ii i ^~+~*^*mi^i^f*i^m^^*" m 

afterwards spoilt in the year 1530 and restored by Sollazzino, a painter 
of our own times ; and he returned to Florence, where, in the middle of the 
Church of S. Croce, on a very great wall on the right, he painted in fresco 
the same subjects that he painted in the Campo Santo of Pisa, in three 
similar pictures, excepting, however, the scene where S. Macarius is 
showing to three Kings the misery of man, and the life of the hermits 
who are serving God on that mountain. Making, then, all the rest of 
that work, he laboured therein with better design and more diligence than 
he had done in Pisa, holding, nevertheless, to almost the same plan in 
the invention, the manner, the scrolls, and the rest, without changing 
anything save the portraits from life, for those in this work were partly 
of his dearest friends, whom he placed in Paradise, and partly of men 
little his friends, who were put by him in Hell. Among the good is seen 
portrayed from life in profile, with the triple crown on his head, Pope 
Clement VI, who changed the Jubilee in his reign from every hundred 
to every fifty years, and was a friend of the Florentines, and had some 
of Orcagna's pictures, which were very dear to him. Among the same 
is Maestro Dino del Garbo, a most excellent physician of that time, 
dressed as was then the wont of doctors, with a red bonnet lined with 
miniver on his head, and held by the hand by an angel ; with many 
other portraits that are not recognized. Among the damned he portrayed 
Guardi, serjeant of the Commune of Florence, being dragged along by 
the Devil with a hook, and he is known by three red lilies that he has 
on his white bonnet, such as were then wont to be worn by the Serjeants 
and other similar officials ; and this he did because Guardi once made dis- 
traint on his property. He also portrayed there the notary and the judge 
who had been opposed to him in that action. Near to Guardi is Ceccho 
<T Ascoli, a famous wizard of those times ; and a little above namely, 
in the middle is a hypocrite friar, who, having issued from a tomb, is 
seeking furtively to put himself among the good, while an angel discovers 
him and thrusts him among the damned. 

i. 25 


Besides Bernardo, Andrea had a brother called Jacogo, who was 

engaged in sculpture, but with little profit ; and in making on occasion for 

this Jacopo designs in relief and in clay, there came to him the wish to make 

something in marble and to see whether he remembered the principles 

of that art, wherein, as it has been said, he had worked in Pisa ; and so, 

putting himself with more study to the test, he made progress therein 

in such a fashion that afterwards he made use of it with honour, as it will 

be told. Afterwards he devoted himself with all his energy to the study 

of architecture, thinking that at some time or another he would have to 

make use of it. Nor did his thought deceive him, seeing that in the 

year i3$, the Commune of Florence having bought some citizens' houses 

near their Palace (in order to have more space and to make a larger 

square, and also in order to make a place where the citizens could take 

shelter in rainy or wintry days, and carry on under cover such business as 

was transacted on the Ringhiera when bad weather did not hinder), 

they caused many designs to be made for the building of a magnificent 

and very large Loggia for this purpose near the Palace, and at the same 

time for the Mint where the money is struck. Among these designs, 

made by the best masters in the city, that of Orcagna being universally 

approved and accepted as greater, more beautiful, and more magnificent 

than all the others, by decree of the Signori and of the Commune there 

was begun under his direction the great Loggia of the square, on the 

foundations made in the time of the Duke of Athens, and it was carried 

on with squared stone very well put together, with much diligence. 

And what was something new in those times, the arches of the vaulting 

were made no longer quarter-acute, as it had been the custom up to that 

time, but they were turned in half -circles in a new and laudable method, 

which gave much grace and beauty to this great fabric, which was brought 

to completion in a short time under the direction of Andrea. And if 

there had been taken thought to put it beside S. Romolo and to turn 

the arches with the back to the north, which they did not do, perchance, 

in order to have it conveniently near to the gate of the Palace, it would 

have been as useful a building for the whole city as it is beautiful in 

workmanship ; whereas, by reason of the great wind, in winter no 

A itnari 

( Relief on the Tabernacle by Andrea di Clone Orcagna, Or San Michele, Florence) 


one can stand there. In this Loggia, between the arches on the 
front wall, in some ornamental work by his own hand, Orcagna 
made seven marble figures in half-relief representing the seven Theo- 
logical and Cardinal Virtues, as accompaniment to the whole work, so 
beautiful that they made him known for no less able as sculptor than 
as painter and architect ; not to mention that he was in all his actions 
as pleasant, courteous, and lovable a man as was ever any man of his 
condition. And because he would never abandon the study of any one 
of his professions for that of another, while the Loggia was building he 
made a panel in distemper with many large figures, with little figures 
in the predella, for that chapel of the Strozzi wherein he had formerly 
made some works in fresco with his brother Bernardo ; on which panel, it 
appearing to him that it could bear better testimony to his profession 
than the works wrought in fresco could do, he wrote his name with 


This work completed, he made some pictures, also on panel, which 
were sent to the Pope in Avignon and are still in the Cathedral Church of 
that city. A little while afterwards the men of the Company of Orsan- 
michele, having collected large sums of money from offerings and dona- 
tions given to their Madonna by reason of the mortality of 1348, resolved 
to make round her a chapel, or rather shrine, not only very ornate and 
rich with marbles carved in every way and with other stones of price, 
but also with mosaic and ornaments of bronze, as much as could possibly 
be desired, in a manner that both in workmanship and in material it 
might surpass every other work of so great a size wrought up to that 
day. Wherefore, the charge of the whole being given to Orcagna as the 
most excellent of that age, he made so many designs that finally one of 
them pleased the authorities, as being better than all the others. The 
work, therefore, being allotted to him, they put complete reliance in 
his judgment and counsel ; wherefore, giving the making of all the rest 
to diverse master-carvers brought from several districts, he applied him- 
self with his brother to executing all the figures of the work, and, the 
whole being finished, he had them built in and put together very thought- 1 


fully without mortar, with clamps of copper fixed with lead, to the end that 
the shining and polished marbles might not become discoloured ; and 
in this he succeeded so well, with profit and honour from those who came 
after him, that to one who studies that work it appears, by reason of 
such union and methods of joining discovered by Orcagna, that the 
whole chapel has been shaped out of one single piece of marble. And 
although it is in a German manner, for that style it has so great grace 
and proportion that it holds the first place among the works of those 
times, above all because its composition of figures great and small, and 
of angels and prophets in half-relief round the Madonna, is very well 
executed. Marvellous, also, is the casting of the bands of bronze, dili- 
gently polished, which, encircling the whole work, enclose and bind it 
together in a manner that it is therefore as stout and strong as it is 
beautiful in all other respects. But how much he laboured in order 
to show the subtlety of his intellect in that gross age is seen in a 
large scene in half-relief on the back part of the said shrine, wherein ; 
with figures of one braccio and a half each, he made the twelve 
Apostles gazing on high at the Madonna, while she, in an oval space, 
surrounded by angels, is ascending to Heaven. In one of these Apostles 
he portrayed himself in marble, old, as he was, with the beard shaven, 
with the cap wound round the head, and with the face flat and round, 
as it is seen above in his portrait, drawn from that one. Besides this, he 
inscribed these words in the marble below : ANDREAS CIONIS, PICTOR 


It is known that the building of this Loggia and of the marble shrine, 
with all the master-work, cost ninety-six thousand florins of gold, which 
were very well spent, for the reason that it is, both in the architecture 
and in the sculptures and other ornaments, as beautiful as any other 
work whatsoever of those times, and is such that, by reason of the parts 
made therein by him, the name of Andrea Orcagna has been and will 
be ever living and great. 

He used to write in his pictures : FECE ANDREA DI CIONE, SCUL- 
TORE ; and in his sculptures : FECE ANDREA DI CIONE, PITTORE ; 
wishing that his painting should be known by his sculpture, and his 


sculpture by his painting. There are throughout all Florence many 
panels made by him, which are partly known by the name, such as a 
panel in S. Romeo, and partly by the manner, such as one that is in 
the Chapter-house of the Monastery of the Angeli. Some of them that 
he left unfinished were completed by Bernardo, his brother, who sur- 
vived him, but not for many years. And because, as it has been said, 
Andrea delighted in making verses and various forms of poetry, when 
already old he wrote some sonnets to Burchiello, then a youth ; and finally, 
being sixty years of age, he finished the course of his life in 1389, and 
was borne with honour from his dwelling, which was in the Via Vecchia 
de' Corazzai, to his tomb. 

There were many men able in sculpture and in architecture at the 
same time as Orcagna, of whom the names are not known, but their works 
are to be seen, and these are worthy of nothing but praise and com- 
mendation. Among their works is not only the Monastery of the Certosa 
of Florence, made at the expense of the noble family of the Acciaiuoli, 
and in particular of Messer Niccola, Grand Seneschal of the King of 
Naples, but also the tomb of the same man, whereon he is portrayed in 
stone, and that of his father and one of his sisters, which has a covering 
of marble, whereon both were portrayed very well from nature in the 
year 1366. There, too, wrought by the hand of the same men, is the 
tomb of Messer Lorenzo, son of the said Niccola, who, dying at Naples, 
was brought to Florence and laid to rest there with the most honourable 
pomp of funeral obsequies. In like manner, in the tomb of Cardinal 
Santa Croce of the same family, which is in a choir then built anew in 
front of the high-altar, there is his portrait on a slab of marble, very well 
wrought in the year 1390. 

Disciples of Andrea in painting were Bernardo Nello di Giovanni 
F_alcpni of Pisa, who wrought many panels in the Duomo of Pisa, and 
Tommaso di Marco of Florence, who, besides many other works, made 
in the year 1392 a panel that is in S. Antonio in Pisa, set up against the 
tramezzo* of the church. 

After the death of Andrea, his brother Jacopo 4 who occupied him- 

* See note on p. 57. 


self in sculpture, as it has been said, and in architecture, was employed 
in the year 1328 on the foundation and building of the Tower and 
Gate of S. Piero Gattolini, and it is said that he made the four 
marzocchi * of stone which were placed on the four corners of the Palazzo 
Principale of Florence, all overlaid with gold. This work was much 
censured, by reason of there being laid on those places, without necessity, 
a greater weight than peradventure was expedient ; and many would 
have been pleased to have the marzocchi made rather of plates of copper, 
hollow within, and then, after being gilded in the fire, set up in the same 
place, because they would have been much less heavy and more durable. 
It is said, too, that the same man made the horse, gilded and in full 
relief, that is in S. Maria del Fiore, over the door that leads to the 
Company of S. Zanobi, which horse is believed to be there in memory 
of Piero Farnese, Captain of the Florentines ; however, knowing nothing 
more about this, I could not vouch for it. About the same time Mariotto, 
nephew of Andrea, made in fresco the Paradise of S. Michele Bisdomini, 
in the Via de' Servi in Florence, and the panel with an Annunciation that 
is on the altar ; and for Monna Cecilia de' Boscoli he made another panel 
with many figures, placed near the door of the same church. 

But among all the disciples of Orcagna none was more excellent 
than Francesco Traim, who made a panel with a ground of gold for a 
nobleman of the house of Coscia, who is buried at Pisa in the Chapel of 
S. Domenico, in the Church of S. Caterina ; which panel contained a 
S. Dominic standing two braccia and a half high, with six scenes of his 
life on either side of him, animated and vivacious and well coloured. And 
in the same church, in the Chapel of S. Tommaso d' Aquino, he made a 
panel in distemper with fanciful invention, which is much praised, placing 
therein the said S. Thomas seated, .portrayed from.the life : I say from the 
life, because the friars of that place had an image of him brought from 
the Abbey of Fossa Nuova, where he died in the year 1323. Below, round 
S. Thomas, who is placed seated in the air with some books in his hand, 
which are illuminating the Christian people with their rays and lustre, 
there are kneeling a great number of doctors and clergy of every sort, 
* Lions of stone, emblems of the city of Florence. 

(After the painting by Francesco Traini. Pisa : Church of S. Caterina) 


Bishops, Cardinals, and Popes, among whom is the portrait of Pope 
Urban VI. Under the feet of S. Thomas are standing Sabellius, Arius, 
Averroes, and other heretics and philosophers, with their books all torn ; 
and the said figure of S. Thomas is placed between Plato, who is 
showing him the Timceus, and Aristotle, who is showing him the Ethics. 
Above, a Jesus Christ, in like manner in the air between the four Evan- 
gelists, is blessing S. Thomas, and appears to be in the act of sending 
down upon him the Holy Spirit, and filling him with it and with His grace. 
This work, when finished, acquired very great fame and praise for 
Francesco Traini, for in making it he surpassed his master Andrea by a 
great measure in colouring, in harmony, and in invention. This Andrea 
was very diligent in his drawings, as it may be seen in our book. 




WHEN those arts that proceed from design come into competition and 
their craftsmen work in rivalry, without doubt the good intellects, 
exercising themselves with much study, discover new things every day 
in order to satisfy the various tastes of men ; and some, speaking for 
the present of painting, executing works obscure and unusual and de- 
monstrating in them the difficulty of making them, make known by 
the shadows the brightness of their genius. Others, fashioning the sweet 
and delicate, thinking these to be likely to be more pleasing to the eyes 
of all who behold them by reason of their having more relief, easily 
attract to themselves the minds of the greater part of men. Others, 
again, painting with unity and lowering the tones of the colours, 
reducing to their proper places the lights and shades of their figures, 
deserve very great praise, and reveal the thoughts of the intellect with 
beautiful dexterity of mind ; even as they were ever revealed with a sweet 
manner in the works of Tommaso di Stefano, called Giottino, who, being 
born in the year 1324 and having learnt from his father the first prin- 
ciples of painting, resolved while still very young to attempt, in so far 
as he might be able with assiduous study, to be an imitator of the manner 
of Giotto rather than of that of his father Stefano. In this attempt he 
succeeded so well that he gained thereby, besides the manner, which was 
much more beautiful than that of his master, the surname of Giottino, 
which never left him ; nay, by reason both of the manner and of the 
name it was the opinion of many, who, however, were in very great 
error, that he was the son of Giotto ; but in truth it is not so, it being 
certain, or to speak more exactly, believed (it being impossible for such 



, things to be affirmed by any man) that he was the son of Stef ano, painter 
of Florence. 

He was, then, so diligent in painting and so greatly devoted to it, 
that, although many of his works are not to be found, those neverthe- 
less that have been found are good and in a beautiful manner, for the 
reason that the draperies, the hair, the beards, and all the rest of his work 
were made and harmonized with so great softness and diligence, that 
it is seen that without doubt he added harmony to this art and had it 
much more perfect than his master Giotto and his father Stef ano. In 
his youth Giottino painted a chapel near the side-door of S. Stef ano al 
Ponte Vecchio in Florence, wherein, although it is to-day much spoilt by 
damp, the little that has remained shows the dexterity and the genius 
of the craftsman. Next, he made the two Saints, Cosimo and Damiano, 
for the Frati Ermini in the Canto alia Macine, but little is seen of them 
to-day, for they too have been ruined by time. And he wrought in 
fresco a chapel in the old S. Spirito in that city, which was afterwards 
ruined in the burning of that church ; and in fresco, over the principal 
door of the church, the story of the Sending of the Holy Spirit ; and on 
the square before the said church, on the way to the Canto alia Cuculia, 
on the corner of the convent, he painted that shrine that is still seen 
there, with Our Lady and other Saints round her, wherein both the 
heads and the other parts lean strongly towards the modern manner, for 
the reason that he sought to vary and to blend the flesh-colours, and to 
harmonize all the figures with grace and judgment by means of a variety 
of colours and draperies. In like manner he wrought the stories of 
Constantine with much diligence in the Chapel of S. Silvestro in 
S. Croce, showing very beautiful ideas in the gestures of the figures ; 
and then, behind an ornament of marble made for the tomb of 
Messer Bertino de' Bardi, a man who at that time had held honourable 
military rank, he made this Messer Bertino in armour, after the life, 
issuing from a sepulchre on his knees, being summoned with the sound 
of the trumpets of the Judgment by two angels, who are in the air 
accompanying a beautifully-wrought Christ in the clouds. On the right 
hand of the entrance of the door of S. Pancrazio the same man made a 


Christ who is bearing His Cross, and some Saints near Him, that have 
exactly the manner of Giotto. In S. Gallo (which convent was without 
the Gate called by the same name, and was destroyed in the siege) 
in a cloister, there was a Pieta painted in fresco, whereof there is a copy 
in the aforesaid S. Pancrazio, on a pillar beside the principal chapel. 
In S. Maria Novella, in the Chapel of S. Lorenzo de' Giuochi, as one 
enters by the door on the left, on the front wall, he wrought in fresco 
a S. Cosimo and a S. Damiano, and, in Ognissanti, a S. Christopher 
and a S. George, which were spoilt by the malice of time, and then 
restored by other painters by reason of the ignorance of a Provost little 
conversant with such matters. In the said church there has remained 
whole the arch that is over the door of the sacristy, wherein there is in 
fresco a Madonna with the Child in her arms by the hand of Tommaso, 
which is a good work, by reason of his having wrought it with 

By means of these works Giottino had acquired so good a name, 
imitating his master both in design and in invention, as it has been told, 
that there was said to be in him the spirit of Giotto himself, both because 
of the vividness of his colouring and of his mastery in draughtsmanship ; 
and in the year 1343, on July 2, when the Duke of Athens was driven out 
by the people and when he had renounced the sovereignty and restored 
their liberty to the Florentines, Giottino was forced by the twelve Re- 
formers of the State, and in particular by the prayers of Messer Agnolo 
Acciaiuoli, then a very great citizen, who had great influence with him, 
to paint in contempt, on the tower of the Palace of the Podesta, the said 
Duke and his followers, who were Messer Ceritieri Visdomini, Messer 
Maladiasse, his Conservator, and Messer Ranieri da San Gimignano, all 
with the cap of Justice ignominiously on their heads. Round the head 
of the Duke were many beasts of prey and other sorts, signifying his 
nature and his character ; and one of those his counsellors had in his 
hand the Palace of the Priors of the city, and was handing it to him, 
like a disloyal traitor to his country. And all had below them the arms 
and emblems of their families, and some writings which can hardly be read 
to-day because they have been eaten away by time. In this work, both 


by reason of the draughtsmanship and of the great diligence wherewith 
it was executed, the manner of the craftsman gave universal pleasure to 
all. Afterwards, at the Campora, a seat of the Black Friars without 
the Porta a S. Piero Gattolini, he made a S. Cosimo and a S. Damiano, 
which were spoilt in the whitewashing of the church ; and on the bridge 
of Romiti in Valdarno he painted in fresco the shrine that is built over 
the middle, with his own hand and in a beautiful manner. 

It is found recorded by many who wrote thereon that Tommaso 
applied himself to sculpture and wrought a figure in marble on the 
Campanile of S. Maria del Fiore in Florence, four braccia high and facing 
the place where the Orphans now dwell. In S. Giovanni Laterano in 
Rome, likewise, he brought to fine completion a scene wherein he repre; 
sented the Pope in several capacities, which is now seen to have been 
eaten away and corroded by time ; and in the house of the Orsini he 
painted a hall full of famous men ; with a very beautiful S. Louis on a 
pillar in the Araceli, on the right hand beside the altar. 

In the lower church of S. Francesco at Assisi, in an arch over 
the pulpit (there being no other space that was not painted) he 
wrought the Coronation of Our Lady, with many angels round her, so 
gracious, so beautiful in the expressions of the faces, and so sweet and 
delicate in manner, that they show, with the usual harmony of colour 
which was something peculiar to this painter, that he had proved himself 
the peer of all who had lived up to that time ; and round this arch he 
made some stories of S. Nicholas. In like manner, in the Monastery 
of S. Chiara in the same city, in the middle of the church, he painted 
a scene in fresco, wherein is S. Chiara supported in the air by two 
angels who appear real ; she is restoring to life a child that was dead, 
while round her are standing many women all full of wonder, with great 
beauty in the faces and in the very gracious head-dresses and costumes of 
those times that they are wearing. In the same city of Assisi, over the 
gate of the city that leads to the Duomp namely, in an arch on the 
inner side he made a Madonna with the Child in her arms, with so 
great diligence that she appears alive, and a S. Francis and another 
Saint, both very beautiful ; both of which works, although the story 


(Florence: Uffixi 27. Panel) 


of S. Chiara remained unfinished by reason of Tommaso having fallen sick 
and returned to Florence, are perfect and most worthy of all praise. 

It is said that Tommaso was melancholic in temperament and 
very solitary, but with respect to art devoted and very studious, as it 
is clearly seen from a panel in the Church of S. Romeo in Florence, 
wrought by him in distemper with so great diligence and love that 
there has never been seen a better work on wood by his hand. In 
this panel, which is placed in the tramezzo* of the church, on 
the right hand, is a Dead Christ with the Maries and Nicodemus, 
accompanied by other figures, who are bewailing His death with bitter- 
ness and with very sweet and affectionate movements, wringing their 
hands with diverse gestures, and beating themselves in a manner that in 
the air of the faces there is shown very clearly their sharp sorrow at the 
so great cost of our sins. And it is something marvellous to consider, 
not that he penetrated with his genius to such a height of imagination, 
but that he could express it so well with the brush. Wherefore this work 
is consummately worthy of praise, not so much by reason of the subject 
and of the invention, as because in it the craftsman has shown, in some 
heads that are weeping, that although the lineaments of those that are 
weeping are distorted in the brows, in the eyes, in the nose, and in the 
mouth, this, however, neither spoils nor alters a certain beauty which 
is wont to suffer much in weeping when the painters do not know well 
how to avail themselves of the good methods of art. But it is no great 
thing that Giottino should have executed this panel with so much 
consideration, since in his labours he ever aimed rather at fame and glory 
than at any other reward, being free from the greed of gain, that makes 
our present masters less diligent and good. And even as he did not 
seek to have great riches, so he did not trouble himself much about the 
comforts of life nay, living poorly, he sought to satisfy others rather 
than himself ; wherefore, taking little care of himself and enduring fatigue, 
he died of consumption at the age of thirty-two, and was given burial by 
his relatives at the Martello Gate without S. Maria Novella, beside the 
tomb of Bontura. 

* See note on p. 57. 


Disciples of Giottino, who left more fame than wealth, were Giovanni 
Tossicani of Arezzo, Michelino, Giovanni dal Ponte, and Lippo, who 
were passing good masters of this art, but above all Giovanni Tossicani, 
who made many works throughout all Tuscany after Tommaso and in 
the same manner as his, and in particular the Chapel of S. Maria 
Maddalena, belonging to the Tuccerelli, in the Pieve of Arezzo, and a 
S. James on a pillar in the Pieve of the township of Empoli. In the 
Duomo of Pisa, also, he wrought some panels which have since been 
removed in order to make room for the modern. The last work that 
he made was in a chapel of the Vescovado of Arezzo, for the Countess 
Giovanna,- wife of Tarlato da Pietramala namely, a very beautiful 
Annunciation, with S. James and S. Philip ; which work, by reason of 
the back of the wall being turned to the north, was little less than 
completely spoilt by damp, when Maestro Agnolo di Lorenzo of Arezzo 
restored the Annunciation, and shortly afterwards Giorgio Vasari, still 
a youth, restored the S. James and S. Philip, to his own great profit, 
having learnt much, at that time when he had not the advantage of 
other masters, by studying Giovanni's method of painting and the 
shadows and colours of that work, spoilt as it was. In this chapel there 
are still read these words in an epitaph of marble, in memory of the 
Countess who had it built and painted : 



Of the works of the other disciples of Giottino there is no mention 
made, seeing that they were but ordinary and little like those of the master 
and of Giovanni Tossicani, their fellow-disciple. Tommaso drew very 
well, as it may be seen in our book, in certain drawings wrought by his 
hand with much diligence. 





ALTHOUGH there is no truth and not much confidence to be placed in the 
ancient proverb that the prodigal's purse is never empty, and although, 
on the contrary, it is very true that he who does not live a well-ordered 
life in his own degree lives at the last in want and dies miserably, it is 
seen, nevertheless, that fortune sometimes aids rather those who squander 
without restraint than those who are in all things careful and self- 
restrained ; and when the favour of fortune ceases, there often comes 
death, to make up for her defection and for the bad management of men, 
supervening at the very moment when such men would begin with infinite 
dismay to recognize how miserable a thing it is to have squandered in 
youth and to want in old age, living and labouring in poverty, as would 
have happened to Giovanni da Santo Stefano a Ponte of Florence, if, 
after having consumed his patrimony and much gain which had been 
brought to his hands rather by fortune than by his merits, with some 
inheritances that came to him from an unexpected source, he had not 
finished at one and the same time the course of his life and all his means. 
.40? This man, then, who was a disciple of Buonamico Buffalmacco, and 
who imitated him more in attending to the pleasures of life than in seeking 
to become an able painter, was born in the year 1307, and after being in 
early youth a disciple of Buffalmacco, he made his first works in the 
Chapel of S. Lorenzo, in the Pieve of Empoli, painting there in 
fresco many scenes of the life of that Saint, with so great diligence 
that he was summoned to Arezzo in the year 1344, a better develop- 
ment being expected after so fine a beginning; and there he painted 
the Assumption of Our Lady in a chapel in S. Francesco. And a little 
time afterwards, being in some credit in that city for lack of other 



painters, he painted the Chapel of S. Onofrio in the Pieve, with that of 
S. Antonio, which to-day is spoilt by damp. He also made some other 
pictures that were in S. Giustina and in S. Matteo, but these were thrown 
to the ground by Duke Cosimo, together with the said churches, in the 
making of fortifications for that city ; [and exactly in that place, at the 
foot of the abutment of an ancient bridge beside the said S. Giustina, 
where the stream entered the city, there were then found a head of 
Appius Caecus and one of his son, both in marble and very beautiful, with 
an ancient epitaph, likewise very beautiful, which are all now in the 
guardaroba * of the said Lord Duke.J 

Giovanni, having returned to Florence at the time when there 
was finished the closing of the middle arch of the Ponte a S. Trinita, 
painted many figures both within and without a chapel built over one 
pier and dedicated to S. Michelagnolo, and in particular all the front 
wall ; which chapel, together with the bridge, was carried away by the 
flood of the year 1557. It is by reason of these works that some 
maintain, besides what has been said about him at the beginning, 
that he was ever afterwards called Giovanni dal Ponte. In Pisa, also, 

*r **^* 

in the year 1355, he made some scenes in fresco behind the altar of the 

J +J*JfJ* > ^,~w.. v wwMvw*nwvv- n "^~l' >->'-' 

principal chapel of S. Paolo a Ripa d' Arno, which are now all spoilt by 
damp and by time. Giovanni also painted the Chapel of the Scali in 
S. Trinita in Florence, with another that is beside it, and one of the 
stories of S. Paul by the side of the principal chapel, where is the tomb 
of Maestro Paolo, the astrologer. In S. Stefano al Ponte Vecchip he 
painted a panel, with other pictures in distemper and in fresco both 
within and without Florence, which brought him considerable credit. 

He gave contentment to his friends, but more in his pleasures than 
in his works, and he was the friend of men of learning, and in particular of 
all those who pursued the studies of his own profession in order to become 
excellent therein; and although he had not sought to have in himself 
that which he desired in others, yet he never ceased to encourage others 
to work valiantly. Finally, having lived fifty-nine years, Giovanni was 

* Guardaroba, the room or rooms where everything of value was stored clothes, 
linen, art treasures, furniture, etc. 


seized by pleurisy and in a few days departed this life, wherein, had he 
survived a little longer, he would have suffered many discomforts, there 
being left in his house scarce as much as sufficed to give him decent burial 
in S. Stefano al Ponte Vecchio. His works date about 1365. 

In our book of drawings by diverse ancients and moderns there is 
a drawing in water-colour by the hand of Giovanni, wherein is a S. George 
on horseback who is slaying the Dragon, and a skeleton, which bear 
witness to the method and manner that he had in drawing. 




How honourable and profitable it is to be excellent in a noble art is 
manifestly seen in the talent and management of Taddeo Gaddi, who, 
having acquired very good means as well as fame with his industry and 
labours, left the affairs of his family so well arranged, when he passed 
to the other life, that Agnolo and Giovanni, his sons, were easily able 
to give a beginning to the very great riches and to the exaltation of 
the house of Gaddi, to-day very noble in Florence and in great repute 
throughout all Christendom. And in truth it has been very reasonable, 
seeing that Gaddo, Taddeo, Agnolo, and Giovanni adorned many 
honoured churches with their talent and their art, that their successors 
have been since adorned by the Holy Roman Church and by the Supreme 
Pontiffs of the same with the greatest ecclesiastical dignities. 

Taddeo, then, of whom we have already written the Life, left his 
sons Agnolo and Giovanni in company with many of his disciples, hoping 
that Agnolo, in particular, would become very excellent in painting; 
but he, who in his youth showed promise of surpassing his father by a 
great measure, did not succeed further in justifying the opinion that had 
already been conceived of him, for the reason that, being born and bred 
in easy circumstances, which are often an impediment to study, he was 
given more to traffic and to trading than to the art of painting ; which 
should not appear a thing new or strange, seeing that avarice very often 
bars the way to many intellects which would ascend to the greatest 
height of excellence, if the desire of gain did not impede their path in 
their earliest and best years. Working as a youth in S. Jacopo tra' 
Fossi in Florence, Agnolo wrought a little scene, with figures little more 

i. 217 28 


than a braccio high, of Christ raising Lazarus on the fourth day after 
death, wherein, imagining the corruption of that body, which had been 
dead three days, with much thought he made the grave-clothes which 
held him bound discoloured by the decay of the flesh, and round the 
eyes certain livid and yellowish marks in the flesh, that seems half 
living and half dead ; not without stupefaction in the Apostles and in 
other figures, who, with attitudes varied and beautiful, and with their 
draperies to their noses in order not to feel the stench of that corrupt 
body, are no less afraid and awestruck at such a marvellous miracle 
than Mary and Martha are joyful and content to see life returning to 
the dead body of their brother. This work was judged so excellent 
that many deemed the talent of Agnolo to be destined to surpass all 
the disciples of Taddeo, and even Taddeo himself ; but the event proved 
otherwise, because, even as in youth the will conquers every difficulty 
in order to acquire fame, so a certain negligence that the years bring 
with them often causes a man, instead of advancing, to go backwards, 
as did Agnolo. Having given so great a proof of his talent, he was 
commissioned by the family of Soderini, who had great hopes of him, 
to paint the principal chapel of the Carmine, and he painted therein all 
the life of Our Lady, so much less well than he had done the resurrec- 
tion of Lazarus, that he gave every man to know that he had little 
wish to attend with every effort to the art of painting ; for the reason 
that in all that great work there is nothing else of the good save one 
scene, wherein, round Our Lady, in a room, are many maidens who are 
wearing diverse costumes and head-dresses, according to the diversity of 
the use of those times, and are engaged in diverse exercises : this one is 
spinning, that one is sewing, that other is winding thread, one is weaving, 
and others working in other ways, all passing well conceived and executed 
by Agnolo. 

For the noble family of the Alberti, likewise, he painted in fresco 
the principal chapel of the Church of S. Croce, making therein all that 
came to pass in the discovery of the Cross, and he executed that work 
with much mastery of handling but not with much design, for only the 


(After the painting by Agnolo Gaddi. Philadelphia, U.S.A. : 
J. G. Johnson Collection} 


colouring is beautiful and good enough. Next, in painting in fresco 
some stories of S. Louis in the Chapel of the Bardi in the same church, 
he acquitted himself much better. And because he used to work by 
caprice, now with more zeal and now with less, working in S. Spirito, 
also in Florence, within the door that leads from the square into the 
convent, he made in fresco, over another door, a Madonna with the Child 
in her arms, and S. Augustine and S. Nicholas, so well that the said 
figures appear as if made only yesterday. 

And because in a certain manner there had come to Agnolo, by way 
of inheritance, the secret of working in mosaic, and he had at home the 
instruments and all the materials that his grandfather Gaddo had used 
in this, he would make something in mosaic when it pleased him, merely 
to pass time and by reason of that convenience of material, rather than 
for aught else. Now, seeing that time had eaten away many of those 
marbles that cover the eight faces of the roof of S. Giovanni, and that 
the damp penetrating within had therefore spoilt much of the mosaic 
which Andrea Tafi had wrought there at a former time, the Consuls 
of the Guild of Merchants determined, to the end that the rest might 
not be spoilt, to rebuild the greater part of that covering with marble, 
and in like manner to have the mosaic restored. Wherefore, the 
direction and commission for the whole being given to Agnolo, he, 
in the year 1346, had it recovered with new marbles and the pieces laid 
over each other at the joinings, with unexampled diligence, to the breadth 
of two fingers, cutting each slab to the half of its thickness ; then, joining 
them together with cement made of mastic and wax melted together, 
he fitted them with so great diligence that from that time onwards neither 
the roof nor the vaulting has received any damage from the rains. 
Agnolo, having afterwards restored the mosaic, brought it about by 
means of his counsel and of a design very well conceived that there 
was rebuilt, round the said church, all the upper cornice of marble below 
the roof, in that form wherein it now remains ; which cornice was much 
smaller than it is and very commonplace. Under direction of the same 
man there was also made the vaulting of the Great Hall of the Palace 


of the Podesta, which before was directly under the roof, to the end 
that, besides the adornment, fire might not again be able to do it damage, 
as it had done a long time before. After this, by the counsel of Agnolo, 
there were made round the said Palace the battlements that are there 
to-day, which before were in no wise there. 

The while that these works were executing, he did not desert his paint- 
ing entirely, and painted in distemper, in the panel that he made for the 
high-altar of S. Pancrazio, Our Lady, S. John the Baptist, and the Evan- 
gelist, and beside them the Saints Nereus, Archileus, and Pancratius, 
brothers, with other Saints. But the best of this work nay, all that is 
seen therein of the good is the predella alone, which is all full of little 
figures, divided into eight stories of the Madonna and of S. Reparata. 
Next, in 1348, he painted the panel of the high-altar of S. Maria Maggiore, 
also in Florence, for Barone Cappelli, making therein a passing good 
dance of angels round a Coronation of Our Lady. A little afterwards, 
in the Pieve of the district of Prato, rebuilt under direction of Giovanni 
Pisano in the year 1312, as it has been said above, Agnolo painted in 
fresco, in the chapel wherein was deposited the Girdle of Our Lady, many 
scenes of her life ; and in other churches of that district, which was full 
of monasteries and convents held in great honour, he made other works 
in plenty. In Florence, next, he painted the arch over the door of 
S. Romeo ; and in Orto S. Michele he wrought in distemper a Disputation 
of the Doctors with Christ in the Temple. And at the same time, 
many houses having been pulled down in order to enlarge the Piazza. 
de' Signori, and in particular the Church of S._ Romolo, this was rebuilt 
with the design of Agnolo. There are many panels by his hand 
throughout the churches in the said city, and many of his works 
may also be recognized in the domain, which were wrought by him 
with much profit to himself, although he worked more in order to do 
as his forefathers had done than for any love of it, having his mind 
directed on commerce, which brought him better profit ; as it is seen 
when his sons, not wishing any longer to be painters, gave themselves 
over completely to commerce, holding a house open for this purpose 


in Venice together with their father, who, from a certain time onward, 
did not work save for his own pleasure, and, in a certain manner, in 
order to pass time. Having thus acquired great wealth by means of 
trading and by means of his art, Agnolo died in the sixty-third year of 
his life, overcome by a malignant fever which in a few days made an 
end of him. 

His disciples were Maestro Antonio da Ferrara, who made many { 
beautiful works in S. Francesco at Urbino, and at Citta di Castello ; 
and Stefano da Verona, who painted in fresco most perfectly, as it is 
seen in many places at Verona, his native city, and also in many of his 
works at Mantua. This man, among other things, was excellent in 
giving very beautiful expressions to the faces of children, of women, 
and of old men, as it may be seen in his works, which were all imitated 
and copied by that Piero da Perugia, illuminator, who illuminated all 
the books that are in the library of Pope Pius in the Duomo at Siena, 
and was a practised colourist in fresco. A disciple of Agnolo, also, was 
Michele da Milano. as was Giovanni Gaddi, his brother, who made, in 
the cloister of S. Spirito where are the little arches of Gaddo and of 
Taddeo, the Disputation of Christ in the Temple with the Doctors, the 
Purification of the Virgin, the Temptation of Christ in the Wilderness, 
and the Baptism of John ; and finally, having created very great expecta- 
tion, he died. A pupil of the same Agnolo in painting was Cennino : 
di Drea Cennini of Colle di Valdelsa, who, having very great affection 
for the art, wrote a book describing the methods of working in 
fresco, in distemper, in size, and in gum, and, besides, how illuminating 
is done, and all the methods of applying gold ; which book is in the hands 
of Giuliano, goldsmith of Siena, an excellent master and a friend of these 
arts. And in the beginning of this his book he treated of the nature of 
colours, both the minerals and the earth -colours, according as he learnt 
from Agnolo his master, wishing, for the reason perchance that he did 
not succeed in learning to paint perfectly, at least to know the nature 
of the colours, the distempers, the sizes, and the application of gesso, 
and what colours we must guard against as harmful in making the 


mixtures, and in short many other considerations whereof there is no 
need to discourse, there being to-day a perfect knowledge of all those 
matters which he held as great and very rare secrets in those times. But 
I will not forbear to say that he makes no mention (and perchance they 
may not have been in use) of some earth-colours, such as dark red earths, 
cinabrese, and certain vitreous greens. Since then there have been also 
discovered umber, which is an earth-colour, giallo santo,* the smalts both 
for fresco and for oils, and some vitreous greens and yellows, wherein 
the painters of that age were lacking. He treated finally of mosaics, and 
of grinding colours in oils in order to make grounds of red, blue, green, 
and in other manners ; and of the mordants for the application of gold, 
but not then for figures. Besides the works that he wrought in Florence 
with his master, there is a Madonna with certain saints by his hand 
under the loggia of the hospital of Bonifazio Lupi, coloured in such a 
manner that it has been very well preserved up to our own day. 

This Cennino, in the first chapter of his said book, speaking of 
himself, uses these very words : "I, Cennino di Drea Cennini, of Colle 
di Valdelsa, was instructed in the said art for twelve years by Agnolo di 
Taddeo of Florence, my master, who learnt the said art from Taddeo, 
his father, who was held at baptism by Giotto and was his disciple for 
four-and-twenty years ; which Giotto transmuted the art of painting 
from Greek into Latin, and brought it to the modern manner, and had 
it for certain more perfected than anyone ever had it." These are the 
very words of Cennino, to whom it appeared that even as those who 
translate any work from Greek into Latin confer very great benefit on 
those who do not understand Greek, so, too, did Giotto in transforming 
the art of painting from a manner not understood or known by anyone, 
save perchance as very rude, to a beautiful, facile, and very pleasing 
manner, understood and known as good by all who have judgment 
jand the least grain of reason. 

All these disciples of Agnolo did him very great honour, and he was 
buried by his sons, to whom it is said that he left the sum of fifty thousand 
* A yellow-lake made from the unripe berries of the spin cervino, a sort of brier. 


florins or more, in S. Maria Novella, in the tomb that he himself had 
made for himself and for his descendants, in the year of our salvation 
1387. The portrait of Agnolo, made by himself, is seen in the Chapel 
of^the Alberti,_in . S. Croce, beside a door in the scene wherein, the 
Emperor Heraclius is bearing the Cross ; it is painted in profile, with a 
little beard, and with a rose-coloured cap on his head according to the 
use of those times. He was not excellent in draughtsmanship, in so 
far as is shown b}^ some drawings by his hand that are in our book. 




Agnolo (of Siena), Life, 97-105. 39 

Agnolo di Lorenzo, 208 

Agnolo Gaddi, Life, 217-223. 185, 186 

Agobbio, Oderigi d', 79 

Agostino (of Siena), Life, 97-105. 39 

Aholiab, xxxviii 

Alberti, Leon Batista, xli, 179 

Alesso Baldovinetti, 4, 48 

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Life, 155-157 

Andrea di Cione Orcagna, Life, 189-199 

Andrea Pisano, Life, 123-131. 189 

Andrea Tan, Life, 47-51. 55, 56, 58, 135, 136, 

145, 219 

Angelico, Fra (Fra Giovanni da Fiesole), 162 
Antonio (called II Carota), 125 
Antonio d' Andrea Tafi, 51 
Antonio da Ferrara, 221 
Antonio da San Gallo, 32 
Antonio Pollaiuolo, xxxiv 
Apelles, xxviii, xxxix 
Apollodprus, xxxix 

Apollonio, 47, 49 , 

Ardices, xxxix 
Aretino, Marchionne, 17, 1 8 
Aretino, Niccolb, 130 
Aretino, Spinello, 67 
Aristides, xli 
Arnplfo di Lapo (Arnolfo Lapo, Arnolfo Lapi), 

Life, 20-26. 8, 13, 14, 20-26, 29, 30, 33, 39, 

65, 113, 126, 170, 174, 180 

Baldovinetti, Alesso, 4, 48 

Bartolommeo Bologhini, 120 

Benedetto da Maiano, 94 

Bernardo di Cione Orcagna, 189, 190, 193-195, 


Bernardo Nello di Giovanni Falconi, 197 
Bezaleel, xxxviii 
Bologhini, Bartolommeo, 120 
Bolognese, Franco, 79 
Bonanno, 15, 16 
Bramante da Urbino, 32 
Brunelleschi, Filippo (Filippo di Ser Brunel- 

lesco), lii, 22, 23, 26, 48, 130 

Bruno di Giovanni, 135, 145, 147, 148, 191 
Buffalmacco, Buonamico, Life, 135-151. 50, 

51, 135-151, 170, 190, 191, 211 
Buonarroti, Michelagnolo, xxvi, xxxiv, 87 
Buono, 14, 15 
Buschetto, liv, Ivi 

Calandrino, 135 

Campi, Fra Ristoro da, 59 

Capanna, Puccio, 85, 89-91 

Carota (Antonio, called II Carota), 125 

Casentino, Jacopo di, 183, 185 

Castelfranco, Giorgione da, xxxii 

Cavallini, Pietro, Life, 161-164. 92 

Cennini, Cennino di Drea, 177, 221, 222 

Cimabue, Giovanni, Life, 3-10. xxiv, xxxv, 
lix, 3-10, 20, 21, 29, 47, 50, 55, 56, 58, 63, 
72, 74, 89, 94, 113, 117, 145, 174 

Cione, 103, 104 

Cleanthes, xxxix 

Cleophantes, xxxix 

Como, Guido da, 48 

Danti, Vincenzio, 36 

Domenico Ghirlandajo, 112, 126, 189 

Donato (Donatello), 48, 130, 178 

Fabius, xl 

Faenza, Ottaviano da, 91 

Faenza, Pace da, 91 

Falconi, Bernardo Nello di Giovanni, 197 

Ferrara, Antonio da, 221 

Fiesole, Fra Giovanni da (called Fra Angelico), 

Filippo Brunelleschi (Filippo di Ser Brunel- 

lesco), lii, 22, 23, 26, 48, 130 
Fonte, Jacopo della (Jacopo della Quercia), 


Forli, Guglielrno da, 92 
Forzore di Spinello, 104 
Fra Angelico (Fra Giovanni da Fiesole), 162 
Fra Giovanni, 59 
Fra Giovanni da Fiesole (called Fra Angelico), 

Fra Jacopo da Turrita, 49, 50, 56 





Fra Ristoro da Campi, 59 

Francesco (called di Maestro Giotto), 91 

Francesco Traini, 198, 199 

Franco Bolognese, 79 

Fuccio, 30, 31 

Gaddi, Agnolo, Life, 217-223. 185, 186 
Gaddi, Gaddo, Life, 55-58. 50, 55-58, 177, 

1 86, 217, 219, 221 

Gaddi, Giovanni, 185, 186, 217, 221 
Gaddi, Taddeo, Life, 177-186. 57, 58, 81, 88, 

89, 129, 177-186, 217, 2l8, 221, 222 

Ghiberti, Lorenzo (Lorenzo di Cione Ghiberti), 

87, 112, 127, 130 

Ghirlandajo, Domenico, 112, 126, 189 
Ghirlandajo, Ridolfo, 125 
Giorgio Vasari, see Vasari 
Giorgione da Castelfranco, xxxii 
Giottino (Tommaso, or Maso), Life, 203-208. 

Giotto, Life, 71-94- 7-9, 25, 39, 50, 51, 57, 

63, 71-94, 99, 109, 111-113, 117, 118, 123- 

127, 161, 162, 168, 170, 174, 177, 178, 180, 

182, 184-186, 190, 203-205, 222 
Giovanni, Bruno di, 135, 145, 147, 148, 191 
Giovanni, Fra, 59 
Giovanni Cimabue, Life, 3-10. xxiv, xxxv, 

lix, 3-10, 20, 21, 29, 47, 50, 55, 56, 58, 63, 

72, 74, 89, 94, 113, 117, 145, 174 
Giovanni da Milano, 182, 183, 185 
Giovanni da Pistoia, 164 
Giovanni dal Ponte (Giovanni da Santo Ste- 

fano a Ponte), Life, 211-213. 208 
Giovanni Gaddi, 185, 186, 217, 221 
Giovanni Pisano, Life, 35-44. 29, 35-44, 76, 

97, 98, 220 

Giovanni Tossicani, 208 
Giuliano, 221 
Guglielmo, 15, 31 
Guglielmo da Forli, 92 
Guido da Como, 48 
Gyges the Lydian (fable), xxxix 

acobello, 105 

acopo da Turrita, Fra, 49, 50, 56 
acopo della Quercia (or della Fonte), 130 
acopo di Casentino, 183, 185 
acopo di Cione Orcagna, 194, 197, 198 
acopo Lanfrani, 104, 105 
acopo Tedesco (Lapo), 14, 18-20, 23, 24, 65, 

Lanfrani, Jacopo, 104, 105 

Lapo, Arnolfo di (Arnolfo Lapo, Arnolfo Lapi), 

Life, 20-26. 8, 13, 14, 20-26, 29, 30, 33, 39, 

65, 113, 126, 170, 174, 180 
Lapo (Maestro Jacopo Tedesco), 14, 18-20, 

23, 24, 65, 174 
Laurati, Pietro (called Lorenzetti), Life, 

117-120. 92 

Leonardo da Vinci, xxxiv 

Leonardo di Ser Giovanni, 104 

Leon Batista Alberti, xli, 179 

Lino, 43 

Lippo, 48, 208 

Lippo Memmi, 172-174 

Lorenzetti, Ambrogio, Life, 155-157 

Lorenzetti, Pietro (Laurati), Life, 117-120. 92 

Lorenzo, Agnolo di, 208 

Lorenzo Ghiberti (Lorenzo di Cione Ghiberti), 

87, 112, 127, 130 
Lysippus, xl 

Maglione, 34 

Maiano, Benedetto da, 94 

Marchionne Aretino, 17, 1 8 

Marco, Tommaso di, 197 

Margaritone, Life, 63-67. 38, 118 

Mariotto, 198 

Martini, Simone (Memmi or Sanese), Life, 167- 

J 74- I0 , 25, 89, 92, 167-174, 183 
Memmi, Lippo, 172-174 
Memmi, Simone (Martini or Sanese), Life, 167- 

174. 10, 25, 89, 92, 167-174, 183 
Metrodorus, xxxix, xl 
Michelagnolo Buonarroti, xxvi, xxxiv, 87 
Michele da Milano, 221 
Michelino, 208 

Milano, Giovanni da, 182, 183, 185 
Milano, Michele da, 221 

Neroccio, 172 

Niccola Pisano, Life, 29-37. 

43, 44, 7 6 > 97 
Niccolb Aretino, 130 
Nino Pisano, 127, 130, 131 

, 29-37, 4, 4 1 * 

Oderigi d 'Agobbio, 79 

Orcagna, Andrea di Cione, Life, 189-199 

Orcagna, Bernardo di Cione, 189, 190, 193-195, 


Orcagna, Jacopo di Cione, 194, 197, 198 
Ottaviano da Faenza, 91 

Pace da Faenza, 91 

Pacuvius, xxxix 

Paolo, 103 

Perugia, Piero da, 221 

Pesarese, 105 

Pheidias, xl 

Philocles, xxxix 

Piero da Perugia, 221 

Pietro, 103 

Pietro Cavallini, Life, 161-164. 9 2 

Pietro Laurati (called Lorenzetti), Life, 117- 

120. 92 

Pietro Paolo, 105 

Pisano, Andrea, Life, 123-131. 189 
Pisano, Giovanni, Life, 35-44. 29, 35-44, 76, 

97, 98, 220 



Pisano, Niccola, Life, 29-37. ' v i> 29-37, 4> 

41, 43, 44, 76, 97 
Pisano, Nino, 127, 130, 131 
Pisano, Tommaso, 130 
Pistoia, Giovanni da, 164 
Pollaiuolo, Antonio, xxxiv 
Polycletus, xl, 167 
Polygnotus, xxxix 
Ponte, Giovanni dal (Giovanni da Santo 

Stefano a Ponte), Life, 211-213. 208 
Praxiteles, xxvi, xl, xli 
Prometheus (fable), xxxix 
Puccio Capanna, 85, 89-91 
Pygmalion, xxviii, xl 
Pyrgoteles, xl 
Pythias, xxxix 

Quercia, Jacopo della (called della Fonte), 130 

Raffaello Sanzio (or da Urbino), 86 
Ridolfo Ghirlandajo, 125 
Ristoro da Campi, Fra, 59 

Sanese, Simone (Martini or Memmi), Life, 167- 
174. 10, 25, 89, 92, 167-174, 183 

Sanese, Ugolino (Ugolino da Siena), Life, 113 

San Gallo, Antonio da, 32 

Sanzio, Raffaello (Raffaello da Urbino), 86 

Ser Giovanni, Leonardo di, 104 

Siena, Ugolino da (Sanese), Life, 113 

Simone Sanese (Martini or Memmi), Life, 167- 
174. 10, 25, 89, 92, 167-174, 183 

Sollazzino, 193 

Spinello, Forzore di, 104 

Spinello, Aretino, 67 

Stefano, Life, 109-114. 92, 203, 204 

Stefano da Verona, 221 

Taddeo Gaddi, Life, 177-186. 57, 58, 81, 88, 
89, 129, 177-186, 217, 218, 221, 222 

Tan, Andrea, Life, 47-51. 55, 56, 58, 135, 136, 


Tan, Antonio d' Andrea, 51 
Tedesco, Jacopo (Lapo), 14, 18-20, 23, 24, 65, 


Telephanes, xxxix 
Timagoras, xxxix 
Tommaso (or Maso, called Giottino), Life, 203- 

208. 112 

Tommaso di Marco, 197 
Tommaso Pisano, 130 
Tossicani, Giovanni, 208 
Traini, Francesco, 198, 199 
Turrita, Fra Jacopo da, 49, 50, 56 

Ugolino Sanese (Ugolino da Siena), Life, 113 

Urbino, Bramante da, 32 

Urbino, Raffaello da (Raffaello Sanzio), 86 

Vasari, Giorgii 

as art-collector, xvii, xviii, lix, 10, 58, 

79, 92, 94, Ilr , I2 , I26 > !38, 157, I 73, 
174, 199, 208, 213, 223 
as author, xiii-xix, xxi, xxiii, xxiv, xxxi, 
xxxiii-xxxvii, xlii, xliii, xlvii, xlix, 1, 
Iv-lix, 7, 9, 10, 13-16, 23-25, 29, 44, 
47-49, 5 1 , 57-59, 66, 75, 79, 80, 86, 87, 
89, 91, 92, 94, 97, 99, 103, 105, 109, 

112, 113, 124, 126, 127, 140, 141, 146, 

150, 163, 164, 170, 181, 183, 191, 192, 

198, 2iy, 222 

as painter, xlii, 67, 86, 119, 120, 147, 

as architect, 25, 31, 38, 39, 119, 120 
Verona, Stefano da, 221 
Vicino, 50, 57, 58 
Vincenzio Danti, 36 
Vinci, Leonardo da, xxxiv 

Zeuxis, xxxix 







r . . 






N Vasari, Giorgio 

6922 Lives of the most e 

V313 painters, sculptors, a 

1912 architects ___